Mr. Big Mouth

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:03 PM ET

Sean Avery knew what was coming and didn't back down from the challenge.

As soon as the visitors' dressing room opened yesterday at Rexall Place, the controversial Los Angeles Kings centre was waiting to discuss the day's hot topic.

"So, we're going to play Big Georges (today). You want to talk about that, get it over with?" Avery quizzed the gathered group of media.

Avery said any expectations of a confrontation between he and Georges Laraque were the farthest things from his mind in tonight's first meeting of the Kings and Oilers since the infamous Oct. 11 game in L.A.

That night, Avery allegedly called Laraque a "monkey" and was then confronted about his word choice in the parking lot after the game. Avery denied the allegation again yesterday and then drew more attention when told about Laraque's comments earlier this week on TSN's Off the Record.

HOT WATER

Laraque claimed that any whiff of attempted revenge on his part would land him in hot water with the NHL which meant Avery could spout off without fear of old-time retribution. It was a sentiment that drew Avery's ire particularly since just two games ago he tussled with rugged Vancouver defenceman Ed Jovanovski.

"It's funny how everybody's got an opinion on me that I don't back it up," he said. "They should watch a fucking game and see what I do and see who I step up and fight. I'll fight when my teammates need me to fight. I don't need to fight a guy who plays four minutes a game. It's a waste of my time."

Laraque refused to get into another war of words with Avery.

"I've talked about it before and I just want it to die," said Laraque. "It will never end if I say what I think. It's not worth it. I got calls telling me what he said and then if I say something about that, I'll be asked about it again (today) and it'll never end."

So did Avery then expect anything to come out of the game?

"I'd like to get two goals, fly home and have a good Christmas," he offered.

"I'll just go out and deal with whatever happens."

GIFT OR CURSE

Avery's unlikely to completely stop speaking his mind since it seems to be his gift, or curse, as the case may be.

"Maybe at times the only thing that I regret is the timing of my comments," he said. "But everything I say, I say it because I mean it.

"I don't know if there's some sort of program that I could maybe go to and they could help me with this. I don't think it's going to work at this point in time. I've just maybe got to do a little polishing. That's as good as it's going to get."

The run-in with Laraque came only a few weeks after his comments about French-Canadians players who he claimed took liberties with opponents and then hid behind their face shields. After Laraque's allegation, Avery was called in for another sitdown with Kings head coach Andy Murray.

"That was probably the 20th discussion we'd had at that point in the season," said Murray. "He's a good young man. He was a little bit outspoken and said some things.

"We've had a number of discussions and I think he's turned the corner. He's done nothing but play the game for eight or nine games now and hasn't been a problem.

"Sometimes you have to move on and everybody has to move on with him and recognize him for what he is which is a pretty good hockey player. It's an example for young players that when you develop a certain reputation it's tough to shake no matter what you do."


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