Now the fun begins.
Avery was reassigned to the AHL just before the Rangers opened the season in Sweden. At the time, coach John Tortorella didn't want to "jam" Avery up, saying he believed there were better players on the roster. It was a hockey decision, not a personal one.
For his part, Avery said he didn't believe he ever had a fair chance to make the roster and that he didn't expect to return to the NHL this season.
Most say Avery was recalled to give the Rangers some energy and a spark. Until Monday night's 5-2 thumping of the Sharks, they had been rather flat. Avery's game is anything but flat. Ironically, though, the game de-emphasized the need for Avery after the process to recall him had already begun. Still, the Sharks' Joe Thornton thinks the Rangers could use a little more grit still.
But Tortorella, who has a frosty relationship with Avery, said the move was done in lieu of Mike Rupp's knee injury. Again, it's a hockey move.
"This is the right decision," Tortorella said Monday. "It's the right hockey decision now and it was the right hockey decision when we sent Sean down. That's where it's at."
At least he's sticking to his guns.
We'll still have to wait and see if Tortorella will play Avery. The decision to recall him might have come from GM Glen Sather, but Tortorella still puts the players on the ice. Our first chance to see how the Torts-Avery reunion is going will be on Thursday when the Rangers host the Anaheim Ducks.
"I'm not force-feeding anything," Tortorella said after Monday's game. "If I look at the tape and think guys have done their job, you stay with your team. I just don't know what the lineup's going to be our next game. We'll see how it all works out."
As I said, this is going to be fun.
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