Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Sean Avery skates with AHL team
By Katie Strang
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Controversial winger and Rangers fan favorite Sean Avery skated for the first time Wednesday since being waived, but said he doubts he'll ever be recalled from the team's AHL affiliate.
"Probably not," Avery told ESPNNewYork.com. "I doubt it."
Avery, who has been rehabbing an injured right shoulder since reporting to the Connecticut Whale earlier this month, indicated he didn't believe he was given a fair shot to make the Rangers out of training camp.
"I'd say it's pretty obvious," Avery said. "I'll let everyone else decide for themselves."
The 31-year-old played with AHL linemates all through training camp and was given limited opportunities in preseason games.
Coach John Tortorella said Avery was in a battle with center Erik Christensen for the 13th forward spot, and after the team waived Avery Oct. 4 while in Europe, left little doubt about how he regarded the notorious agitator.
"I don't want to jam up Sean here; I think we have better players than Sean Avery, plain and simple," Tortorella told reporters during the team's preseason tour in Sweden.
The two spoke before Avery flew back to New York, and called it a "pretty quick conversation."
"[Tortorella] told me it was his decision and that was pretty much it," Avery said.
Asked if Tortorella's comments about his departure upset him, Avery said: "I've always had a good sense of humor, haven't I?"
Avery, who received a cortisone shot Tuesday, said he had options to play in Europe -- lucrative offers in Russia, some less-enticing offers in Switzerland -- but decided to play in Connecticut instead.
He's not viewing it as a last-ditch effort to get back to the NHL, or ultimately, the Rangers. Avery carries a cap hit of $1.9 million and, if claimed on re-entry waivers, would leave the Rangers on the hook for close to $1 million.
"I'm not even going to think about it," he said. "It's like someone trying to win the lottery."
While playing in Hartford, Avery still will make the $4 million he is owed in the last year of a four-year, $15.5 million deal that he signed with Dallas in 2008.
Dallas and New York, who claimed Avery on re-entry waivers from the Stars in March 2009, each will pay half of his salary, but his $1.9 million cap charge is off the books for both teams.
Avery said he won't worry about his future with the team or NHL, or where he'd be willing to play if the team put him on re-entry waivers. He'll try to have fun with his teammates in Hartford and enjoy playing hockey again.
"I'm probably one of the only guys in hockey who's being paid a lot of money to play without pressure," he said. "My only responsibility now is to work hard."
The issue isn't whether he can still play, though. That he knows he can do.
"I can still play in the NHL," he said. "There's no question about that."
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPNNewYork.com.