Kings' Avery earns hat trick

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

Sean Avery has had plenty of practice at being the most despised player in the NHL.

Six years ago, the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan detailed how the North York native had become the scourge of the Ontario Hockey League with the Kingston Frontenacs.

"I take it as a compliment," Avery said at the time. "If I come out and run my mouth off or give a guy a cheap shot, they have to watch out because hopefully, I'm going to put up the points, too."

Little has changed with Avery, who was named the league's top agitator by both players and media in the Sun Poll and completed the unique hat trick as "biggest suck" as picked by the media.

The Los Angeles Kings forward had quite a year in 2005.

First, he claimed to have been "brainwashed" by union boss Bob Goodenow after the lockout. Then, he enraged foes with incendiary comments about French Canadians and use of visors. The league also investigated an alleged racial slur and twice fined him in relation to diving.

"Sometimes, with the things he says, you wonder if you want him on your team," Los Angeles coach Andy Murray said with a laugh last week.

"But in another category, he's one of the most improved players on our team. Two years ago, he couldn't play, even though he was talking about being part of a Stanley Cup when he was with Detroit."

"He has been a big help this year (28 points in 54 games entering play last night) and he's been very quiet lately."

Tie Domi, a hell-raiser as a younger man, has a soft spot for the 25-year-old Avery.

'BIG PEST'

"He's a big pest and he has been a pest a long time," Domi said in December when the Maple Leafs and Kings clashed.

"There are not as many of them as before, so everyone's recognizing him a lot more. He does what he has to do."


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