A royal pain

Los Angeles Kings centre Sean Avery.

Los Angeles Kings centre Sean Avery.

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:46 AM ET

Sean Avery was spotted in town the other day chatting up blond bombshell Elisha Cuthbert, the former star of the hit TV drama 24.

At least he's talking to someone these days.

He certainly wasn't willing to gab with members of the media circus who gathered at Lakeshore Lions Arena yesterday for an audience with the yappy yet effective superpest of the Los Angeles Kings.

"No comment today, guys," Avery told the sea of camera and microphones as he prepared to trot out to the team bus.

Avery's penchant of avoiding reporters during the Kings' swing through Eastern Canada has not been lost on the team's beat reporters, either. In today's edition of the Los Angeles Times, writer Chris Foster referred to this new trend exhibited by the Pickering native as "The Avery Flee Circus."

The suits at the NHL offices must be jumping for joy at this recent vow of silence taken up by the normally outspoken Avery, whose outrageous quotes at times have left him in hot water with the league.

"I think sometimes (Sean's skills) are overlooked because of the comments, which I think the (Kings) brass could do without,"said teammate Craig Conroy, whose Kings meet the Maple Leafs tonight at the Air Canada Centre.

" I think, at times, we take it with a grain of salt."

Conroy compared Avery to fellow agitator Ville Nieminen, Conroy's teammate with the Calgary Flames in 2003-04.

"At least you can understand what Sean is saying compared to (Ville)," he said, chuckling.

"But guys like Sean, Ville, Tyson Nash, those are the types of guys you need to win. In (Avery's) case, you'd love to have him on your team. He's got a great shot, he's a great skater but that stuff gets overshadowed sometimes.

"I give him credit. We don't have a lot of tough guys on this team, but he goes out there, he does his job, and he doesn't complain.

"The bottom line is, he can't fight everybody. And everybody wants to fight him."

'GOOD PLAYER'

Told of the Cuthbert sighting, Conroy rolled his eyes.

"His head's going to get even bigger now. And you can't say anything to him. He'll just tell you to shut up."

Coach Andy Murray feels Avery's mouth sometimes takes the focus off his talents.

"He's a good player," Murray said. "He can help himself by letting his actions on the ice do his talking for him."

Not all opponents are embittered by Avery's act, either.

"I've seen him at the cottage a number of times and I've seen enough nice things out of him that I like him," Leafs' Jeff O'Neill said. "He's not one of the cookie-cutter guys I see talking throughout the league. I don't agree with everything he says but he's a colourful personality."

Will O'Neill feel the same way if Avery tries to bring up some dirt on him tonight?

"He'd better not or I'll club him over the head," O'Neill said before breaking into laughter.


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