Gabby squeals on Avery

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau always seemed to couch his comments about Rangers' superpest Sean Avery, possibly because he once coached him and knew Avery's father Al from the Toronto Marlies' minor hockey system.

But Boudreau saved an outlandish bit for his new book, Gabby: Confessions Of A Hockey Lifer. Boudreau, who was a bit on the pudgy side since his playing days, relayed that in Game 7 of the Caps - Rangers series last spring, Avery delivered one of his most blistering verbal attacks at ice level.

"He told me I was the biggest, fattest bleeping pig he had ever seen," Boudreau said in the book, co-written with Tim Leone. "He told me I was fatter than Ken Hitchcock (the rather rotund coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets). He told me I was going to die because I was such a fat bleep."

Such allegations, if true, will spice up the Nov. 17 game between the teams at MSG. But neither the Rangers, nor Avery are responding to Boudreau's charge. And Avery just finished an interview with Sun Media, saying he underwent therapy to prevent some of the many physical and vocal outbursts that have landed him in hot water with the league.

"Talking too much is never really a good thing," Avery told Sun Media's Marie-Joelle Parent. "Two or three years ago, our GM said to me that the quietest guy in the room is always the most powerful. It never really sank in until I went through some stuff last year."

Boudreau, who was nicknamed Gabby, also talks in the book about his years with the Marlies and Maple Leafs, his climb through the minor league coaching ranks (he worked with Avery with the Manchester Monarchs) promoted by the Caps and winning the Jack Adams Trophy the same year. Boudreau was also an extra in SlapShot with Paul Newman.

Cats scratch fever

The Leafs currently have the fourth-longest non-playoff streak in the NHL of four years and counting, two back of Phoenix and Los Angeles. Those clubs are doing better so far, but at this rate, the Florida Panthers won't be surrendering top spot. Four straight losses before last night increases chances of nine straight dry springs.

If they miss again, the Cats would tie the league record held by the hybrid California Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons/Minnesota North Stars, who missed the playoffs nine times from 1971-79 and the Colorado Rockies/New Jersey Devils, who were outside the door between 1979-87.

Roenick rhumba?

Jeremy Roenick tells AM 640 Radio in Toronto that there's a "strong possibility" he will be performing in next spring's taping of ABC's top-rated show Dancing With the Stars.

Roenick says he was on the short list for the autumn portion, but was bumped for U.S. Senator Tom DeLay, an early casualty because of stress fractures in both feet.

As for his potential female partner, Roenick would only quip "I hope she's hot".

Saving grace, face

Ryan Miller of the Sabres reminds all goalies they owe a debt to Jacques Plante for having the courage to don a mask, 50 years ago this week.

"I've read some stories about how people made it difficult for him and called him a coward," Miller said. "It's definitely the best invention I can think of."

Miller used to buy crude street hockey masks as a kid.

"I would paint them up with model paints. I would do all kinds of crazy stuff, like take paper plates and turn them into masks when I was seven-years-old, playing hockey with my brother in the garage. Any way to be in the big leagues."

Ice chips

Keeping score of the NHL's all-star sick bay team? It now includes Roberto Luongo (rib), Sergei Gonchar (wrist), Evgeny Malkin (shoulder), Ilya Kovalchuk (foot), Daniel Sedin (foot), Simon Gagne (groin), Johan Franzen (knee), Pavol Demitra (shoulder) and Marian Gaborik (lower body) ... Defenceman Dan Boyle of the Kings revealed he's been hiding a broken thumb since mid-September ... Andrew Raycroft was always an honest man. "I can't be Roberto Luongo, I have to be me," said the Vancouver backup of stepping in for the team captain. "But that's not to say if I lose six in a row they (fans) are not going to be ready to lynch me." ... Good thing Sidney Crosby didn't cheer for the Leafs as a kid. He has 10 goals and 12 assists in 15 games versus the Habs, his childhood team ... Last night was Marc Crawford's 1,000th game behind the bench, becoming the 15th NHL coach to make it.

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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