Sean Avery

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Sean Avery
Sean Avery Headshot.jpg
Avery in 2010
Born (1980-04-10) April 10, 1980 (age 41)
North York, Ontario, Canada
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)
Position Left wing
Shot Left
Played for Detroit Red Wings
Los Angeles Kings
Lahti Pelicans
New York Rangers
Dallas Stars
NHL Draft Undrafted
Playing career 2000–2012

Sean Christopher Avery (born April 10, 1980) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player. During his career in the National Hockey League (NHL), he played left wing for the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and Dallas Stars, gaining recognition for his agitating playing style and controversial behaviour both on and off the ice. He finished his 12-year career with a total of 90 goals, 247 points and 1,533 penalty minutes in 580 games. He led the league in penalty minutes twice, during the 2003–04 and 2005–06 NHL seasons. He is also known for his eclectic interests, having worked in fashion, most notably as an intern at Vogue magazine; as a model; and as a restaurateur.

After retiring in 2012, Avery began working at Lipman, an advertising and creative agency in New York City. He was promoted to senior staffer, but the firm closed without notice in September 2013, reportedly due to financial problems, later filing for bankruptcy, and owing Avery $229,167.[1]

Avery's memoir, Ice Capades: A Memoir of Fast Living and Tough Hockey, was published by Blue Rider Press in 2017.

Early life[edit]

Avery was born in North York, Ontario,[2] the son of Al and Marlene Avery, both teachers.[3] He grew up in Pickering, Ontario,[4] where he attended Dunbarton High School.[5] He has a younger brother named Scott.[6]

Playing career[edit]

Junior league (1996–2000)[edit]

Prior to joining the NHL, Avery played for the Owen Sound Platers and the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).[7]

Detroit Red Wings (2001–2003)[edit]

Avery was signed by the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent in 1999. He played one final season in the OHL before turning professional in 2000 with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the American Hockey League (AHL). Avery broke into the NHL during the 2001–02 season, playing 36 games with the Red Wings and 36 in the minors. The Red Wings went on to win the Stanley Cup that season, but Avery did not play in the playoffs, nor did he play the required 41 games to get his name engraved on the Cup.

Midway through the 2002–03 season, Avery was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, along with defenseman Maxim Kuznetsov and two draft picks for Mathieu Schneider.[8] He finished the season with 15 points in 51 games.[9]

Los Angeles Kings and NHL lockout (2003–2007)[edit]

Avery with the Kings

In 2003–04, Avery played 76 games for the Kings, scoring 9 goals to go along with 19 assists. He also led the NHL in penalty minutes with 261.[9]

During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Avery briefly played in the Finnish Elite League with the Lahti Pelicans, and in the United Hockey League for the Motor City Mechanics. Along with 149 penalty minutes in just 16 games, he tallied 26 points for the Mechanics, including two hat tricks, making him the first player in Mechanics history to record two hat tricks in one season. Several players spoke publicly of their dissatisfaction with the NHL Players' Association’s leadership during the lockout, including Avery, who publicly blamed NHLPA president Bob Goodenow for wasting an entire season with a battle that alienated fans and yielded few results.[10]

Avery led the league in penalty minutes for the second consecutive season in 2005-06, with 257. With three games remaining, the Kings unofficially suspended Avery for the remainder of the season after he refused to do a drill in practice. Nevertheless, the team re-signed him to a one-year deal.[11]

During his time with the Kings, Avery has been said to have mocked Dustin Brown about his lisp. Former Kings' teammate Ian Laperrière said it "was bullying, like you might see in high school." But according to other players and coaches, Brown's lisp was not Avery's target, Brown's then girlfriend, now wife, Nicole was. Avery did not think Nicole Brown was glamorous enough to be a "girlfriend of a hockey player in Hollywood."[12]

New York Rangers (2007–2008)[edit]

Avery in 2007

On February 5, 2007, in the middle of the 2006–07 season, Avery was traded to the New York Rangers.[11] After joining the Rangers, he scored 20 points in 29 games to help the team complete a 17–4–6 end-of-season run to qualify for the playoffs. On March 17, Avery recorded a single-game career-high four points (one goal and three assists) against the Boston Bruins in a 7–0 victory.[13] Avery played in his first career playoff game on April 12 against the Atlanta Thrashers, recording his first playoff points with a goal and an assist.[14] He cut down on penalty minutes by about 65% in 2006–07 compared to seasons past.

On August 1, 2007, Avery, as a restricted free agent, earned an arbitration award of $1.9 million for the 2007–08 season, which the Rangers accepted, keeping him with the team for at least another year.[15]

On February 16, 2008, in a game against the Buffalo Sabres, Avery scored a goal 10 seconds into the game, setting a record for fastest goal scored by a Ranger on home ice.[16]

Dallas Stars (2008)[edit]

Avery signed a four-year, $15.5 million contract with the Dallas Stars on July 2, 2008.[17] He had been a roommate of the Stars' co-general manager Brett Hull when the two played for the Red Wings. Hull thought the Stars needed more fire and emotion on the ice, and felt Avery would fit the bill. Avery scored 3 goals in 23 games before he and the team parted ways following his six-game suspension by the NHL in December 2008, due to controversial remarks made about fellow players.[18] The Stars placed Avery on waivers on February 7, 2009.[19][20]

Return to the Rangers (2009–2012)[edit]

Avery in the 2009 playoffs

After clearing waivers on February 9, 2009, Avery was assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers' AHL affiliate, although he remained a member of the Stars organization (that season, the Stars had no AHL affiliate).[20][21] On March 2, Avery was placed on re-entry waivers by Dallas, and claimed by the Rangers the following day.[22] On January 5, 2010, in a game against the Stars, his former team, Avery recorded one goal and three assists.[23]

On October 4, 2011, the Rangers waived Avery. The following day, he cleared waivers and was assigned to New York’s affiliate, the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.[24] On October 31, 2011, the Rangers placed Avery on 24-hour re-entry waivers. The move was done to bring him up as a replacement for the injured Mike Rupp. He cleared waivers and re-joined the Rangers for their November 5 game against the Montreal Canadiens.[25] Despite playing less than 10 minutes in all 15 games he played for the Rangers that season, he scored 3 goals. After being a healthy scratch for nine games, Avery was once again placed on waivers on December 30, 2011. Since no NHL team claimed him, he returned to the AHL's Connecticut Whale.[26] His last game played with the Whale was on January 27, 2012. He was left off the Whale's Clear Day list of players eligible to play for the remainder of the AHL season submitted on March 5, and told to no longer report to games or practices.[27]

On March 12, 2012, Avery retired. He announced his retirement on Watch What Happens Live with host Andy Cohen.[28][29]


Over the course of his hockey career, Avery was involved in a number of controversies and fined by the NHL on numerous occasions. The controversy started early in his career; Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said he unloaded Avery during the 2002–03 season partly because he did not seem to have respect for the game.[30] In Avery's memoir, "Ice Capades", he responds to the comments that he was a bad teammate. He writes "The knock on me was that I was a "bad teammate". Did this mean that I stole other players' girlfirends? That I was an arrogant puck hog? That I put Tiger Balm in guys' jockstraps and thought it was the funniest thing ever when they tried to extinguish the three-alarm burning up the family jewels?"[31]

Leukemia comment[edit]

In November 2007, Howard Berger, a reporter for Toronto radio station FAN 590 stated that an unnamed Rangers player had accused Avery of commenting about Toronto Maple Leafs player Jason Blake's battle with leukemia, prior to a pre-game confrontation between Avery and Toronto's Darcy Tucker.[32] Avery, who denied the allegation, received an NHL-maximum $2500 fine, and Tucker received a $1000 fine.[33]

The Avery Rule[edit]

Avery "screening" Brodeur

During Game 3 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals against the New Jersey Devils, Avery turned his back on the play in order to face and screen Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur during a two-man advantage on the power play. He waved his hands and stick in front of Brodeur in an attempt to distract him and block his view. The puck was later cleared out of the Devils' zone but on the second Rangers offensive attack, Avery scored a power play goal.

Although screening is a commonly used tactic (especially on the power play), notable in this instance was that Avery had spent the initial part of the play facing Brodeur while ignoring the puck, with his back to the play (normally, the player screening the goaltender is facing the play). The following day, the NHL issued an interpretation of the league's unsportsmanlike conduct rule to cover actions such as the one employed by Avery, which would now result in a minor penalty.[34] This became known colloquially as "The Avery Rule".[35]

Avery's tactics during that series against the Devils earned multiple power plays, and he scored in each of the first three games. His controversial yet effective antics helped lead the Rangers to a 4–1 series win. At the end of the series, Brodeur refused to shake Avery's hand. In an interview after game 5 when asked about the handshake line, Avery replied, "Fatso forgot to shake my hand".[36]

Heckling incident[edit]

Avery during the 2010–11 season

On November 1, 2008, following a game with the Stars against the Boston Bruins, Avery was accused of shouting obscenities at a fan who had been heckling him during the game. A report of complaint was filed with the NHL, but no action was taken.[37]

"Sloppy seconds" comment[edit]

On December 2, 2008, prior to the Stars' morning skate in preparation for a game against the Calgary Flames, Avery approached the assembled reporters in the dressing room and stated, “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, but enjoy the game tonight.” At the time, two of Avery's ex-girlfriends were dating fellow NHL players – actress Elisha Cuthbert was dating Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf, and model Rachel Hunter was dating Kings center Jarret Stoll.[37][38][39]

Within hours, the NHL suspended Avery indefinitely for "conduct detrimental to the league or the game of hockey". His comments were met with near-unanimous condemnation by the Stars organization, fellow players, and fans alike. Stars owner Tom Hicks said that the team would have suspended Avery had the NHL not acted first.[40] Avery apologized the next day, calling his actions "inappropriate" and "a bad attempt to build excitement for the game".[41]

On December 5, the NHL fixed Avery's suspension at six games, retroactive to the December 2 game against the Flames. He agreed to undergo anger management counseling due to what the NHL called unacceptable and antisocial behavior. Commissioner Gary Bettman noted that both he and league disciplinarian Colin Campbell had warned Avery several times before about his behaviour.[39] On December 14, after the last game of Avery's suspension, the Stars announced that Avery would not return to the team. One factor in the Stars decision was that coach Dave Tippett and several of the players, including Mike Modano and Marty Turco, let it be known they weren't willing to take him back on the team. Tippett had warned Avery not to talk to the media about his former girlfriends, and was outraged when he did so.[42][43] According to TSN's James Duthie, Avery's teammates had soured on him not long after he arrived. The "sloppy seconds" incident was the last straw, and Hicks had been actively looking to cut ties with him while the suspension was underway.[44]

Tortorella feud[edit]

Prior to his second stint with the Rangers, Avery had been called out on numerous occasions by then TSN commentator and future Rangers coach John Tortorella, who is noted for his no-nonsense behavior with his players and the press. After rejoining the Rangers, Avery’s relationship with Tortorella was uneasy, although in Avery's book he reports there were moments of mutual admiration. Nearly a year after Avery retired, on March 30, 2013, following the Rangers’ second consecutive shutout loss, a tweet from Avery's Twitter account said of his former coach, “Fire this CLOWN, his players hate him and wont play for his BS.”[45][46] On May 29, 2013, after the Rangers lost to the Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Tortorella was fired.[47] Avery told the New York Post that he “had a huge smile” on his face after finding out that Tortorella was fired, adding, “It’s not that I’m happy for myself. I’m happy for the Rangers and Ranger fans.”[46]

Restraining order[edit]

Avery was served with a restraining order for harassing his mother-in-law in 2017.[48]


Lipman Agency[edit]

Upon his retirement from the NHL, in April 2012, Avery began working at New York City-based advertising and creative agency Lipman. Hired by founder, chairman and chief creative officer David Lipman, Avery was appointed chief strategic officer and helped develop strategies for numerous Lipman clients, including the campaign for the Stuart Weitzman line’s Spring/Summer 2013 campaign, featuring Kate Moss, and 7 For All Mankind jeans, which showcased Avery himself as a model. He has also handled a range of assignments for Lipman’s parent company, Revolate Holdings.[49]


Along with Henrik Lundqvist, Avery was an investor in social media platform Twtmob, as of 2013.[50]



In April 2008, it was announced that Avery would be spending the summer offseason interning at Vogue magazine.[51] In June 2008, Avery guest-edited, the website for Men's Vogue magazine.[52] His interest mainly resides with women's fashion; of men's fashion Avery has said, “You do suits and pants and that's about that. Women's clothes tell a story. That's what's interesting to me.”[53]

In 2008, New Line Cinema put into development a film based on Avery’s life, focusing on his status as a professional athlete with an active interest in fashion, including a summer internship at Vogue. Stan Chervin, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Moneyball (2011), was hired to write the script.[54]

Commonwealth Utilities[edit]

In 2009, Avery worked with men's fashion label Commonwealth Utilities to present a clothing line for New York Fashion Week.[55]


Hickey Freeman[edit]

Avery was hired to be the face of Hickey Freeman's Spring/Summer 2012 ad campaign, shot by Francesco Carrozzini. The print ads have appeared in Vanity Fair, DC Modern Luxury and other magazines. One ad featured a racy and scantily-clad Avery with a female model, while the others offered city scenes of Avery in plaid suits sporting sunglasses.[56][57]

7 For All Mankind[edit]

Avery stars in the 2013 campaign for 7 For All Mankind, A Beautiful Odyssey, a trio of shorts directed by James Franco. The films explore themes of love and passion through their portrayal of a white wedding on a California beach at sunset, with a potential love triangle looming. Avery also appears in the print ads.[58]

Film and television appearances[edit]

Avery played a small role in the 2005 Maurice Richard biopic The Rocket: The Legend of Rocket Richard, portraying former New York Rangers defenseman Bob Dill. Avery appeared in a 2007 episode of MADtv with Kings teammates Tom Kostopoulos and Scott Thornton. He was a guest on a 2009 episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; a Top Ten List presenter on a 2009 episode of Late Show with David Letterman; a guest judge on Project Runway: All Stars in 2012; and appeared on Fashion Police in 2013.[59] He was on People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive 2007 list.[60]

On March 4, 2014, he was announced as one of the celebrities who will take part in the 18th season of Dancing with the Stars.[61] He partnered with Karina Smirnoff. The two were the second couple to be eliminated on week 2 after a double elimination.

Avery is mentioned in the bestselling book Odd Man Rush: A Harvard Kid's Hockey Odyssey from Central Park to Somewhere in Sweden—with Stops along the Way by Bill Keenan.

In January 2020, Avery announced he was cast in Christopher Nolan's upcoming film Tenet.[62]


Avery's memoir, Ice Capades: A Memoir of Fast Living and Tough Hockey (titled Offside: My Life Crossing the Line in Canada), was published by Blue Rider Press on October 24, 2017.[63] He personally narrates the book on Audible, Amazon's streaming book service.


Warren 77[edit]

In the summer of 2009, Avery opened Warren 77, a sports bar named after its address in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood at 77 Warren Street. On opening night, many figures from the hockey world were present, including Brendan Shanahan, Ken Daneyko and Henrik Lundqvist. The décor was meant to reflect an old New York style, with Andy Warhol originals and pictures of icons on the walls, as well as pictures of the New York Rangers, past and present. Matt Abramcyk, a former art dealer, and Chris Miller, co-owner of the Beatrice Hotel, are co-owners of the bar.[35][64][65]

Tiny's and the Bar Upstairs[edit]

In May 2011, two years after opening Warren 77 with Abramcyk, Avery opened Tiny's and the Bar Upstairs, also in Tribeca. This would be Avery's second restaurant venture alongside Abramcyk and Rangers goalie Lundqvist. Avery handled day-to-day operations, including occasionally bussing tables.[66] In August 2013, the New York Post reported that Avery had sold his interests in both Warren 77 and Tiny's.[67]


Same-sex marriage[edit]

In May 2011, Avery recorded a video for the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign, in support of same-sex marriage.[68] Avery was believed to be the first athlete in New York to publicly voice his support for same-sex marriage. In an interview with the New York Times, he stated, "I certainly have been surrounded by the gay community. And living in New York and when you live in L.A., you certainly have a lot of gay friends."[69] Avery also traveled to Albany, New York, to lobby politicians prior to the July 2011 legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State.[70][71]

Athlete Ally[edit]

In May 2012, Avery joined the board of directors of Athlete Ally, a nonprofit organization focused on ending homophobia and transphobia in sports by educating those in the athletic community and empowering them to take a stand against prejudice. Athlete Ally also provides public awareness campaigns, educational programming, and tools and resources to foster inclusive sports communities around the country.[72]

Personal life[edit]

Avery married model Hilary Rhoda at the Parrish Art Museum in New York on October 10, 2015.[73] The couple had been engaged since November 8, 2013.[74] The two first met at Warren 77 in the summer of 2009.[73] They have a son, Nash Hollis Avery, born on July 28, 2020.[75]

Career statistics[edit]

Bold indicates led league

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1995–96 Markham Waxers MetJHL 1 0 0 0 4
1996–97 Owen Sound Platers OHL 58 10 21 31 86 4 1 0 1 4
1997–98 Owen Sound Platers OHL 47 13 41 54 105 11 1 11 12 23
1998–99 Owen Sound Platers OHL 28 22 23 45 70
1998–99 Kingston Frontenacs OHL 33 14 25 39 88 5 1 3 4 13
1999–2000 Kingston Frontenacs OHL 55 28 56 84 215 5 2 2 4 26
2000–01 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks AHL 58 8 15 23 304 4 1 0 1 19
2001–02 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks AHL 36 14 7 21 106
2001–02 Detroit Red Wings NHL 36 2 2 4 68
2002–03 Detroit Red Wings NHL 39 5 6 11 120
2002–03 Los Angeles Kings NHL 12 1 3 4 33
2002–03 Manchester Monarchs AHL 3 2 1 3 8
2003–04 Los Angeles Kings NHL 76 9 19 28 261
2004–05 Pelicans SM-l 2 3 0 3 26
2004–05 Motor City Mechanics UHL 16 15 11 26 149
2005–06 Los Angeles Kings NHL 75 15 24 39 257
2006–07 Los Angeles Kings NHL 55 10 18 28 116
2006–07 New York Rangers NHL 29 8 12 20 58 10 1 4 5 27
2007–08 New York Rangers NHL 57 15 18 33 154 8 4 3 7 6
2008–09 Dallas Stars NHL 23 3 7 10 77
2008–09 Hartford Wolf Pack AHL 8 2 1 3 8
2008–09 New York Rangers NHL 18 5 7 12 34 6 0 2 2 24
2009–10 New York Rangers NHL 69 11 20 31 160
2010–11 New York Rangers NHL 76 3 21 24 174 4 0 1 1 12
2011–12 New York Rangers NHL 15 3 0 3 21
2011–12 Connecticut Whale AHL 7 2 1 3 39
NHL totals 580 90 157 247 1,533 28 5 10 15 69


  • January 11, 1999 – Traded to Kingston (OHL) by Owen Sound (OHL) with Steve Lafleur for Aaron Fransen and D. J. Maracle.[76]
  • September 21, 1999 – Signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings.[76]
  • March 11, 2003 – Traded by the Red Wings, along with Maxim Kuznetsov, Detroit's 2003 first-round draft choice and 2004 second-round draft choice, to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Mathieu Schneider.[8]
  • November 24, 2004 – Signed as a free agent by Lahti (Finland).[76]
  • February 11, 2005 – Signed as a free agent by Motor City (UHL).[76]
  • February 5, 2007 – Traded by the Kings, along with John Seymour, to the New York Rangers in exchange for Jason Ward, Jan Marek, Marc-André Cliche and New York's 2008 third-round draft choice.[76]
  • July 2, 2008 – Signed as a free agent with the Dallas Stars.[76]
  • March 3, 2009 – Claimed off re-entry waivers by the Rangers.[22]
  • October 11, 2011 – Sent down to the Connecticut Whale (AHL).[24]
  • October 31, 2011 – Placed on 24-hour re-entry waivers.[25]
  • March 12, 2012 – Announces retirement.[28]


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External links[edit]