Sean Avery and John Tortorella have, to put it mildly, some history.
There were moments of mutual admiration. There was tough love, like when Tortorella scratched Avery in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There was palpable tension between one of the NHL’s best pests and a coach who used to call him out as a TV analyst for TSN, before he was hired by the New York Rangers.
The relationship exploded in 2011, when Avery was the final cut in Rangers training camp, forcing him to travel back from the team’s European tour to join the AHL Connecticut Whale. That sparked an “Occupy MSG” protest with fans outwardly supporting Avery. He returned to the Rangers, was sent back to the Whale, became a frequent healthy scratch, “officially” retired in March 2011 and claimed to have thrown his skates in the Hudson River.
So there’s a little animosity there. It cropped up again when Avery offered this candid take after the Rangers lost to the Montreal Canadiens in March 2013:
“Fire this CLOWN, his players hate him and wont play for his BS....”
Now that the clown has been fired, Avery opened up to Larry Brooks of the NY Post about his feelings about Tortorella as a former New York Rangers coach.
“Oh, I had a huge smile on my face, no question about it,” Avery told The Post yesterday. “It’s not that I’m happy for myself. I’m happy for the Rangers and Ranger fans.
“When I was a Ranger, no one was happier to walk into the Garden every day than me. I loved the team. I still do. I want the atmosphere to be the best it can be for the players. I want everyone in New York to be proud of the team. That’s why I felt the way I did [on Wednesday] and that’s why I sent that tweet.”
… “I said the day I came back to the Rangers that Tortorella was going to be the best thing for me in my career. Well, he was the worst thing ever that could have happened to my hockey career but the best thing that ever happened to my life.”
And here we thought the worst thing for his hockey career was signing in Dallas…