Sean Avery hopes to be a thorn in the side of opponents instead of his own team next season


seanaveryagitates.jpgFew hockey players speak their mind and establish themselves as interesting people – but love him or hate him – Sean Avery is one of the NHL’s biggest personalities. That being said, Avery distinguishes himself from the Terrell Owens/Chad Ochocinco-types by falling short of star status when the games actually take place.

Sure, people are quick to point out that Avery brings a rare flourish of talent to the mostly one-note role of hockey pest, but a cursory glance at his career statistics will tell you that he doesn’t always justify the attention he receives. Still, he’s a pretty intriguing player for the New York Rangers (especially at the much-to-the-Dallas-Stars-chagrin buyout price of $1.97 million), so the team must be happy to hear that he’s hoping to improve upon a mediocre 31-point, 160 PIM season.

“I think everyone knows what my game entails,” Avery said. “I’m just excited to get back to the way that I know how to play and enjoy playing that way.”

Sticking with his philosophy of letting last season go, Avery wasn’t in the mood Thursday to talk about what was missing from his game last season.

“Lots,” is all he would say.


The relationship between Avery and Tortorella appeared to turn dicey last season because the player couldn’t find a comfort zone playing the way the coach wanted him to. But since Avery seems ready to turn the page on last season, it’s not off base to think he’s hoping for a fresh start with Tortorella, too.

Anyone surprised by the fact that Avery and Totorella butted heads last season clearly isn’t very familiar with the careers of either person. Still, as much as Avery needs to always be mindful of the line between breaking and bending the rules, Torts might benefit from being careful to press the right buttons with Avery.

When you consider how offensively limited the Rangers roster is, they’re going to need to grind out a lot of wins. Having a focused Avery baiting other teams into bad penalties – rather than the self-destructive, off-the-wall version – would be a big help for a team that will need to scratch and claw if it hopes to make the playoffs next season.

And in a rare occurrence, Avery’s at least saying all the right things.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.