After the New York Rangers began the season on a seven-game road trip because of renovations to Madison Square Garden, the team finally returned home on Thursday night. The pregame excitement -- featuring players entering the arena via a blue carpet -- didn't last, as the Toronto Maple Leafs spoiled things with a 4-2 victory.
Missing from the festivities: Winger Sean Avery, a fan favorite who was waived and sent to the Rangers' AHL affiliate in Connecticut on Oct. 5. Some fans decided to use the home opener to voice their displeasure with that decision.
Before the puck even dropped, a fan in an upper-level section hung a banner reading "16 Avery. Send Torts To The Whale" in support of winger Avery.
According to Jesse Spector of Sporting News, the banner was removed before the first period was over. A season-ticket holder named "Don" told ESPN New York that the reason he made the banner was in protest to Avery losing his spot in the Rangers' lineup to Kris Newbury. He also said he plans to have more banners as the season goes on.
In the third period, fans upped their earlier support for the former Rangers pest and began chanting "We Want Avery":
"Ugh. Well, I don't know that that would make a difference."
That'll make for an interesting Sam Rosen interview if Avery is ever called up, yeah?
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist toed the company line after the game telling reporters:
"Obviously, Aves he is one of a kind when it comes to playing the game the way he plays it, and he brings a lot to the table. He's a great player obviously, but right now the management thinks this is the best team possible and we're just gonna go with that."
Avery, by the way, is expected to make his debut with the Connecticut Whale on Friday night in Adirondack.
Photo Credit: Dave Lozo of NHL.com