Ex-teammate casts 'Mr. Inside Edition' as outsider

STEVE MACFARLANE

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

There's something seriously wrong with Sean Avery.

And no, Brett Hull, he can't be fixed. He's proven that.

No one can honestly say they are shocked by what came out of Avery's mouth this week in Calgary.

More surprising is that the six-game suspension handed down by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday is the first for the Dallas Stars agitator during seven years of the same old song and dance.

Until now, though, being a bad teammate or taking a verbal shot at an opponent has been dealt with privately in the room or on the ice, where the trash talk belongs.

Finally, the NHL has set a precedent for embarrassing the league.

NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly is a little concerned about the NFL-like discipline process and even more worried about what the Stars might do to attempt to get out of the four-year, US$15.5-million contract they signed Avery to this summer.

They may have a case, but it's not like they didn't know exactly what they were getting with Avery.

There's a rumour that upon breaking into the NHL with a veteran Detroit Red Wings team in 2001-02, they made Avery suit up in the weight room because of his annoying ways.

With the Los Angeles Kings, his infatuation with Hollywood only made things worse when it came to being a good teammate.

"With him, he never makes team parties. He always had his people. You really didn't see him outside the rink too much. He had his thing and we had ours," said a former Kings teammate, who originally agreed to go on record but later thought it might lead to a future confrontation.

"He has his own way of thinking. I don't think anyone else in the league has a publicist. He thinks that's his main job, to be Mr. Inside Edition."

Things didn't change in New York, where he wore out his welcome with the Rangers after less than two seasons.

And now in Dallas, his Stars teammates don't sound too eager to take him back, even after the suspension is over.

Hull, the Stars' co-GM, seems to think Avery can be reformed.

"We have to fix him," said Hull yesterday. "There were a lot of words thrown out -- anger management, depression. He's going to use this time to figure things out."

Hull saying Avery can be fixed is no different than all those men and women trapped in bad relationships believing they can change the way their partner behaves.

People rarely change, especially when they've been given so many chances to do exactly that and consistently refuse.

Avery's been given those opportunities by four NHL teams, but continuously crosses the line the way a drunk driver wobbles back and forth during a roadside test.

"Avery's one of those guys that, even in practice, I'd be going into the corner and pass the puck up, he'd come in with a flying elbow to the head," said the anonymous ex-teammate. "There's no need for that.

"He thinks his job is to get the other team off their game, which is an advantage to have, but when you try to get your own team off their game with the stuff he does in the dressing room, it's almost like you're taking one step forward, two steps back."

The Stars would love to take their next step forward without him. If he can't be fixed, they should try a muzzle.


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