Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What's Up With That? #68: Unkempt afterwards

This struck me as a rather peculiar news item.

Sean Avery, a player with the National Hockey Association's Dallas Stars, made the following statement to a group of reporters covering the Stars' game earlier this week against the Calgary Flames:
I am really happy to be back in Calgary. I love Canada. I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about. Enjoy the game tonight.
As the sporting press dutifully acknowledged, Avery's ex-girlfriend, actress (and as an ardent fan of 24, I'm using that word with extreme accommodation) Elisha Cuthbert, is dating a Flames defenseman named Dion Phaneuf.

Apparently, Avery disapproves.

But perhaps not as much as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman disapproves of Avery's choice of metaphor. Bettman suspended Avery indefinitely for "inappropriate public comments."

Now, this seems weird to me on several levels. Allow me to elucidate.

When I first heard about Avery's indiscretion, the news account simply stated the charge, without publishing Avery's exact words. I presumed that he had used one of the two four-letter Anglo-Saxonisms for the female reproductive anatomy (let's call them the "C" word and the "T" word) in reference to Ms. Cuthbert. I was taken aback somewhat when I learned what term he'd actually used.

Is "sloppy seconds" profane? Crude, yes. Uncomplimentary, without question — though I think I may have used stronger terminology to critique Ms. Cuthbert's acting talents (or utter lack of same) on at least one or two occasions. (All right, you've got me — every week for the first three seasons of 24.)

But a chargeable offense? Seems extreme to me.

Unlike the "C" and "T" words, however, I'm fairly certain that you could use the expression "sloppy seconds" on primetime network television. (Not that you should. I'm just saying.) It was the title of a Dr. Hook album way back in 1972, for crying out loud. If you could put it on the cover of a pop album (not to mention the cover of the Rolling Stone) 36 years ago, I'm sure you could probably get away with it on Two and a Half Men today. (If anyone would know about "sloppy seconds," it would have to be Charlie Sheen.)

I was also puzzled by the fact that Avery tossed this remark off (no pun intended) in an interview with journalists in a locker room. (Do they call it a locker room in hockey, or is it a clubhouse? Not sure. Not caring. Moving on...) Was this really the first thing Sean could think of to say when confronted with a battery of microphones? Whatever happened to, "We've gotta play 'em one game at a time... the guys are really pulling together... that's the way the puck slides sometimes... sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes the Zamboni breaks down"? Did this man never see Bull Durham? Crash Davis to the Stars' locker room, please.

For that matter, why are there reporters in a hockey locker room, interviewing players? Does anyone care what hockey players have to say? I mean, the Sharks might be the best team in the NHL right now, and you don't hear Joe Thornton or Jonathan Cheechoo babbling inanities about their ex-girlfriends — or anything else — on the local sports talk station. We know how to keep our Canadians under control here in the Bay Area.

And one other odd thing...

There's an ice hockey team in Dallas?

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4 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Anonymous LongTimeFirstTime offered these pearls of wisdom...

A couple of things:

It's a dressing room in hockey.

There is an ice hockey team in Dallas, just not a professional one. (Zing!)

I agree that Avery's comments were not over-the-top offensive, but they were offensive nonetheless. At a time when the NHL is trying to bring back the fans who left during the dreary, defense-first, "dead puck" era of the 1990s, the last thing they need is this over-rated, over-hyped loud mouth running around perpetuating the stereotype of hockey players as inarticulate, sexist, neanderthals.

7:58 AM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

LTFT: You mean hockey players aren't inarticulate, sexist Neanderthals? ;)

Seriously, I agree that Avery's remark was offensive. My point was that, while offensive, it didn't seem (to me, anyway) to rise to the level that an indefinite suspension might suggest. It was insensitive and rude -- not to mention criminally unfunny -- but if the NHL suspends every player who says rude, insensitive, stupid things, they might have a tough time getting games on the ice. (The same could be said of the other major sports leagues as well. Minus the ice, of course.)

I'll accept your assessment of Avery's hockey ability. As I've mentioned here numerous times, I'm not a fan of the sport (I've referred to it as "soccer on ice, with sticks"), and thus had never heard of Sean Avery before this incident. I don't know if he's the kind of moron who pops off all the time, or if this was an aberration.

And thanks for the "dressing room" reminder. I knew they called it something different in hockey, but I couldn't recall it when I was composing this post.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous LongTimeFirstTime offered these pearls of wisdom...

>> You mean hockey players aren't inarticulate, sexist, Neanderthals?

Oh, they are that. Or at least a few of them are.

As a follow up: Avery got a 6 game suspension from the league today, which is pretty substantial for an off-ice incident of this nature. I bet it will be reduced following an appeal of some kind.

And, yes, this was the latest in an ongoing series of unfortunate events involving Avery. He trumpets himself as the kind of colorful, outspoken character that the league needs (a la Charles Barkley in the NBA), but he is little more than a distracting sideshow with none of Sir Charles' insight, intelligence or wit.

10:41 AM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

LTFT: Thanks very much for the background on Avery.

Six games still seems a trifle steep, but as you say, the commissioner's office will probably bargain it down.

And you know, I love Sir Charles. But does the sporting world need more than one of him? :)

11:52 AM  

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