Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It's buyer beware in Avery's instance

And Jets are very, very wary indeed

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The chance to get a $4-million dollar hockey player for a quarter of his salary might be tempting, but the Winnipeg Jets aren't interested in Sean Avery.

Avery was placed on recall waivers by the New York Rangers on Monday and the Jets would have been third in line this morning were they to put in a claim on the troublesome winger. But they won't and the discussion, if there was one at all, would have been short.

Avery doesn't pass the sniff test the Jets apply to all potential players. They call it the "people aspect," of a player and the organization has a standard it wants all players to meet. Avery once had a reputation as a pain in the ass to play against but now he's regressed simply into a pain.

The Dallas Stars are on the hook for 50 per cent of Avery's salary while the Rangers are currently picking up the other half. Were a team to claim him off waivers the split would be 50 per cent to Dallas and 25 per cent to the Rangers and the final 25 per cent to the buyer.

But it's doubtful any club will introduce Avery into its dressing room.

Avery is unpredictable as a player and his career has been so disjointed of late it's unclear what he has left to offer an NHL team. Maybe he can be useful and maybe he can't, but the risk is too great for a franchise like the Jets, stocked with so many young players.

Winnipeg's dressing room couldn't control Avery and certainly the club wouldn't want to put him in St. John's with the IceCaps where he could potentially poison their prospects.

Maybe the Jets would be willing to temper their values for a guaranteed goal scorer or shut-down defenceman, but Avery can't claim to be anything close to a player of that calibre.

Players with the Dallas Stars were shocked that one player could bring them down as a team, but that's exactly what Avery did in December of 2008 after making crude comments about former girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert, a Canadian-born actress and girlfriend of then-Calgary Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf.

The Stars soon placed Avery on waivers and the Rangers claimed him, but he's been ineffective since, scoring just 19 goals in 163 games.

One might argue that for a team in 27th place like the Jets that Avery is worth the gamble. Maybe, if Winnipeg was stocked with veterans that could nip any foolishness in the bud. Winnipeg, however, is the opposite with many of its players still young and impressionable.

GM Kevin Cheveldayoff would be reckless to sit Avery in his dressing room within striking distance of Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and Alexander Burmistrov.

No, he's a risk with little chance for reward and the Jets are wise to pass.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 1, 2011 C1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.


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