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

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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.

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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.