Avery's arbitration hearing
The Post has learned that in addition to referring to Avery as, "a reasonably effective player as well as a detriment to the team," in the team brief that was presented to the arbitrator, Ranger management also said:I talked a little bit about this yesterday, but now that the hearing is over and a ruling on the way, it makes more sense to break down just what happened here. Brooks presents a pretty one-sided look at the process — we really don't hear anything about what Avery and his agent presented — but his argument is that Rangers management should have taken a more tactful approach given the player will be on their team next season.
"Avery is not a mature player. He plays, at times, like an individual rather than a member of a team. This is sometimes referred to as an inability to see the ice, and in Avery's case this seems to fit with his overall approach to the game."
Arbitration is nasty business. Back in 1997, Tommy Salo was, now infamously, reduced to tears in a hearing with Islanders GM Mike Milbury, who said the netminder was in danger of losing his job to then-prospect Eric Fichaud.
"It doesn't have to be nasty," Blues GM Larry Pleau said of the process a few years ago. "I think the players have to realize that when they choose salary arbitration, we are going to say how we feel. And both sides have to live with the results and move on."
Arbitration is definitely a flawed process. It relies on extremes being presented by both sides and an independent arbitrator weighing in based on the information received, and there have been some downright goofy awards in the past. But it is what it is. There's a reason the majority of players/teams who opted for arbitration this summer have settled beforehand, and a lot of it has to do with the ugliness involved. (There's also the matter of cost, which is shared by the team and player and could potentially creep up there given lawyers' fees and travel costs.)
And while Brooks rips the Rangers for penny-pinching, the same can certainly be said for Avery who, in fighting for a $2.6-million contract after a career-high 48-point season, surely presented an eye roll-inducing argument as to his value to the team. His career 82-game average is 13 goals and 34 points, not to mention 232 PIM, and there's certainly a reputation there to backup those 'immaturity' qualms.
How about this pose he struck for a photographer on the streets of Toronto?
Isn't that indicative of an underlying problem? Is it really that hard to believe Avery's selfish off-ice actions have carried over to his interaction with his team? What about alleged racial slurs, insulting francophone players, multiple fines, fights with the media and his general all-around unpopularity?
At some point, that catches up to you, and I think it's rather charitable to chalk this kind of nonsense up to immaturity.
The bottom line is that if Avery wants more respect in situations like this, it's time to start acting with a little class. It's one thing for a player like Joe Sakic to be ripped apart in a hearing and quite another for a player noted for being reckless to be put in place.
Is it an extreme characterization by Glen Sather? Undoubtedly. But in arbitration, that's the game you play.