Interesting quote from L.A. Kings GM Dean Lombardi Monday, when asked upon the resgning of controversy magnet Sean Avery, how he would reel in the tempestuous winger's behavior.
"We have him placed under Double Secret Probation", alluded Lombardi, to behavior clauses that can be tied to player contracts once they have exhibited a tantamount of displeasing on and off ice infractions.
It makes one wonder whether Lombardi was placing himself in the disciplinary role of another infamous Dean who once uttered the same terminology on the silver screen. In the 1978 classic, Animal House, Delta college Dean, Vernon Wormer, fed up with the shenanigans of the rival Delta House, warns the derelicts of impending hard hitting discipline should they step out of line.
"They're already on probation? Well as of now, they are on double secret probation!"
Avery comes with a checkered past. Who knows if he seized the allusion Lombardi made. The GM wants to point the player in the right direction in hopes he doesn't become a cross between Oggie Ogglethorpe and John "Bluto" Blutarski.
The Kings forward became an important tangent in the teams offensive cog last season. Avery had a career year with 15 goals and 39 points. His aggresive play on the ice took a backseat to his mouth, which spewed insanities all season long.
It began in the pre-season, with Avery making derogatory remarks towards Phoenix blueliner Denis Gauthier. Gauthier had levelled the concussion prone Jeremy Roenick with a hard hit and Avery retaliated verbally by calling French Canadian players who wear visors "Chickens". It wasn't the fowl remark that landed Avery in hot water. He issued a half hearted apology after the league tagged him with a fine. Roenick ironically sided with Gauthier, terming the hit "clean and hard".
No word as to whether he shouted "Toga! Toga! on any of the teams training camp road trips.
A month later, the loose cannon was at it again. In an October matchup in Edmonton, Avery allegedly uttered a racial slur at the Oilers Georges Laraque. Avery denied the allegation. Without proof of the incident, the league warned him once again.
Towards the years end, Avery let go with venom of a profanity filled nature aimed at Anaheim Ducks TV commentator Bryan Hayward, off camera. Days later the Kings sent him home for the balance of the season after he got into it with the teams assistant coach Mark Hardy.
Avery began forging his outspoken repution during the owner imposed lockout that cancelled the 2004-05 campaign. With the owners gag-ordered by Commisioner Gary Bettman, Avery took the opportunity to rant on about the unfairness of the whole situation. In the process, he may have helped divide several factions of the NHLPA, as his comments made them look nothing but greedy. For a week, the PA seemed more upset with Avery than the owners. He was politely told to shut up by none other than equally biased and biting Chris Chelios.
While he may not have dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into a swim meet, toyed with medical cadavers and filled trees with underwear, Lombardi is seemingly put the clamps on Avery. He'd best be advised to stick to the game at hand.
Many have suggested that what the outspoken Avery is actually up to, is sowing the seeds of his post career, perhaps in broadcasting. Then teamate Roenick, under the L.A. lights, was a quote-a-minute guy for the teams media. Wannabe Avery seemed to take the cue and run.
It remains to be seen, whether a few months down the line, Lombardi pulls out the Animal House quote book once again as a door closes on Avery.
"It's time someone put their foot down", he may suggest, "and that foot is me!"