Monday, January 17, 2011

'I'm Going to Drag You to Center Ice and Beat You Like You've Never Been Beaten Before'

Last night, I spent the early part of the evening eating dinner at my aunt's house and watching the Jets physically batter the Patriots to advance to the AFC Championship game. That meant I missed the first period of the Flyers-Rangers game, where Jeff Carter and Ville Leino lit the lamp to give Philadelphia a 2-0 lead.

I then proceeded to listen to the entire second period on the radio as I drove home, and believe it or not, I was actually thrilled that I was listening to Tim Saunders and Chris Therien instead of watching the action with Jim Jackson, Keith Jones and Steve Coates. Why, you ask? Because after Steve Avery did what he always does — you know, be the biggest bitch in the history of sports — by engaging Matt Carle, a player who had exactly 0 fighting majors in his career prior to last night, in a scrum and throwing sucker punches on him while he was down on the ice, Chris Therien told one of the best stories I've ever heard.

Therien didn't hide his feelings about Avery, calling him a "real tough guy" for going after Carle AND continuing to hit him while he was on the ice. Then he was talking about how retribution will be had at one point or another, especially with Jody Shelley taking names. But more importantly, Therien relayed a story from back in his playing days.

On the final day of the 1999-2000 season, the Flyers were taking on the Rangers in Madison Square Garden. The Flyers had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the East, while the Rangers had an awful year and missed the playoffs. Clearly, in a match-up like that between two bitter rivals, tempers would probably flair. And that's exactly what happened. Apparently, there was an all-out brawl, and the pot really got stirred by a young Ranger who was taking runs at Flyers and jumping in as the extra man when Keith Primeau was engaged with another Ranger.

This infuriated the Flyers to no end, a young kid playing dirty in the final game of the season with nothing going on. Naturally, the Flyers weren't going to take that quietly. So as the story goes, according to Therien, Craig Berube skated over to the Rangers' bench and right up to Brian Leetch. He stopped and said to Leetch, "If you don't get that kid under control, next time you're on the ice I'm going to drag you to center ice and beat you like you've never been beaten before in front of 20,000 people."

Therien said that not a single Ranger said a word, and about a minute later the Flyers looked down the bench. There was Leetch with his arm around the kid giving him a good talking-to. From that point on, according to Bundy's account, the Rangers pretty much didn't even throw another check the entire game.

Let that be a lesson to any team that wants to deal with an asshole pest like Sean Avery, a guy who loves to pick on people that never fight but always shies away from real fighters. Don't go after him, go after his teammates, especially the star ones, the ones who don't fight.

And yes, I'm completely aware that Dan Carcillo, an experienced fighter, fought Marian Gaborik, who never fights, last year. That was hardly a fair fight, but then again, Gaborik was the idiot who dropped his gloves first.

He got what he asked for, while Carle had no idea what the hell was going on. The moral of the story is Sean Avery is an asshole, and no, not the kind you want on your team. How do I know this? Because his teammates in Dallas actually demanded that he be removed from the team. That's the only player I've ever heard that to be true of in the entire NHL.

Shortly after that, Mike Richards netted a shorthanded goal to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead. And even though they played like complete dog shit in the third period and Brian Boucher let in a softy, they held on for the 3-2 win thanks largely to two-point nights by Leino (a goal and an assist) and Carle (two assists), to go along with Claude's great pass to Richards for the shortie and 34 saves by Boucher in net, bouncing back nicely from his disaster showing last Thursday.

Hopefully next time they play, Jody Shelley will drag Sean Avery to center ice and beat his former teammate like he's never been beaten before in his life. Or better yet give Gaborik another beat down as punishment for Avery's sins. HIs assistant coach can give him some pointers on how to go about it.

That's 63 points in 45 games for the Flyers by the way, most in the East and only one behind Vancouver's 64 points in 45 games.

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