25 April 2006

Does This Visor Make Me Look Like a Cheap Shot Artist?

Early in the 05/06 NHL campaign, former Los Angeles Kings forward Sean Avery got called on the carpet for supposedly bashing French-Canadian hockey players and was required to apologize; this being the sensitive touchy-feely NHL:
Avery told the Canadian sports television network that he thought (Coyotes defenceman Denis Gauthier) delivered a "clean hit." He added: "I think it was typical of most French guys in our league with a visor on, running around and playing tough and not back anything up.

Avery later released a statement through the Kings, apologizing for the comments. Said Avery: "I certainly did not want to offend anyone with my comments earlier today. I am an emotional guy who sometimes says things that shouldn't be said. I apologize if I offended anyone."
Avery is no charmer. On the ice, he conducts himself like a pitbull with a toothache. He lead the league in penalty minutes before being dismissed by the Kings late in the season for insubordination.

But he's right. Not about all French-Canadian players, but about Denis Gauthier. Avery's crime was not failure to be sensitive to cultures other than his own, it was poorly communicating his feelings. Gauthier is a classic cheap-shot artist who wears the visor on his helmet (the equivalent of announcing you are not a fighter in the NHL) and never confronts or takes down an opponent face to face.

Late in the regular season, Gauthier, now with the Flyers, ran Kyle Wellwod in the end boards from behind and earned a 2-game suspension. Last night, as the Flyers were getting pasted by the Sabres, Gauthier was at it again, this time waiting until Tomas Vanek was at his most vulnerable behind the net before riding him into the glass. Gauthier got 5 and 10 for the hit, but Bob McKenzie thinks it should be more.
Gauthier's hit on Wellwood and the hit from behind on Vanek were garbage. I think Colin Campbell and the NHL should suspend Gauthier. This guy should forfeit the right to play in the postseason. This was a nothing game because the score was so out of hand, and Gauthier went way over the line. That's embarrassing and he should be suspended.
Sean Avery was the kind of nuisance player that drives me crazy, but as Gny. Sgt. Hartman said of Pvt. Joker, "he's got guts, and that's enough."

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