Glen Sather and Sean Avery have proved Thomas Wolfe wrong because it seems that you can go home again after all â€“ especially when you have a negative reputation and carry and a $2 million price tag.
The long-awaited return of the prodigal pest became a reality when the Rangers were awarded Avery on waivers at 12pm this afternoon. Now that the â€œGrate Oneâ€ has returned, let the fireworks begin. No, I am not referring to Averyâ€™s on-ice antics, but to the fireworks that are sure to ignite the Rangers locker room.
We are all aware of John Tortorellaâ€™s feelings towards Avery when the new Rangers coach was working for TSN as commentator. I guess it makes Wednesdayâ€™s practice (the first Avery is eligible to partake in) must-see television. The MSG Network would be smart to broadcast tomorrowâ€™s practice.
Only time will tell if the reacquisition of Avery is a smart thing. Previously I wrote that brining in Avery would be the wrong thing to do given the Rangers current lack of leadership. However, with Tom Renney out and Tortorella in, it is possible that the new coach might have a better chance of keeping Avery focused on playing hockey.
In case you forgot, here is what Tortorella said on TSN.
”Enough is enough. He’s embarrassed himself, he’s embarrassed the [Dallas] organization, he’s embarrassed the league and he’s embarrassed his teammates, who have to look out for him. Send him home. He doesn’t belong in the league.”
Of course, Sather had drawn up a response to any questions referring back to Tortorellaâ€™s rant.
‘He doesn’t have the history with Sean that we do,” Sather responded. ”Over time, you learn to love him, just like I do.”
As one might have expected, Tortorella is keeping to the company line in respect to Avery and his return to the Rangers.
“We feel, especially in the division, we need a little more jam on our team. Hopefully he can kick in a couple of goals. I havenâ€™t coached Sean, I want to see what heâ€™s all about. Iâ€™ve seen him play. When heâ€™s concentrating on playing under a team concept, heâ€™s an effective player. Thatâ€™s what weâ€™re looking for. Heâ€™s really tried to help himself and Glen believes in second chances. I think heâ€™s done his homework here and weâ€™ll see where it goes,” Steve Zipay wrote on his Newsday blog.
“I believe in personalities…If you have conflict, you must be hitting a problem head on. I had major conflicts with a lot of players in Tampa Bay. Now we respect one another, and understand why we went through it.”
One positive is that the Rangers will only be assessed half Averyâ€™s salary tax hit as the Dallas stars must pick up the other half â€“ approximately $2 million per season per team for the next three seasons.
Another positive is that Ranger fans might not have Aaron Voros to kick around much longer. Voros and Erik Reitz were both placed on waivers today. With Avery returning, the need for Voros pretty much evaporates. As for Reitz, once Paul Mara returned to the lineup the former Wild blueliner was going to be gone â€“ especially in light of Tortorellaâ€™s comments that he does not like to have extra bodies hanging around and not playing. With Hartford just a couple of hours away from the Garden, the Rangers can continue to keep their roster under the 23 player limit.
With Avery back in red, white and blue, the focus now shifts to whether or not Sather will be able to swing a trade or two by Wednesdayâ€™s 3pm deadline. Depending on who is traded, Slats might have some wiggle room to make a tweak here or there. The odds of big blockbuster type of deal remain slim because the Rangers have some onerous contracts.
Unless Sather morphs into the hockey version of Donnie Walsh, donâ€™t expect to see any big names leaving MSG. Odds are Sather will look to tinker and add some depth and possibly swap a reasonably priced expiring contract for another reasonably priced expiring contract.