So what happened to that old 'sticks and stones' thing?
Sure what Sean Avery said today was tasteless. Sophomoric even. But it was a joke -- a bad one obviously -- and delivered with tongue firmly planted in cheek and hardly suspension worthy. Watch the tape of the incident to see the silly smirk on Avery's face and you'll realize that the irritating Stars forward intended as much to make fools out of those anxiously clinging to every one of his words as anything else.
I suspect that the media minions who surrounded Avery this morning, no doubt hoping that he would say something stupid, had to fight off the urge to chuckle when he did. That is at least until they remembered that outrage was the politically correct response. The "sloppy seconds" comment was clearly intended for Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who is dating "24" actress and former Avery squeeze Elisha Cuthbert, and was the kind of thing the Dallas player does to get under opponents' skin.
It is arguably his best skill as a hockey player although he can play the game too, and sometimes, well often, Avery takes things too far. But Phaneuf is a big boy and one of the league's hardest hitters to boot, so if he wanted to exact revenge, there would have been ample opportunity in tonight's game between the two teams.
Anyway, that's how things are supposed to be done in the NHL, a league that encourages players to beat each other up on a regular basis to excite fans and has a code about retribution in these kinds of circumstances. Might have even gotten a few more eyeballs to tune in or to pay attention later on. But why would the NHL do anything to encourage that?