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Clarke lights into Avery on TSN's Off The Record

TSN.ca Staff

10/22/2008 9:31:29 PM

In his 40 years as a National Hockey League executive and former Broad Street Bully, Bob Clarke has been around some of the game's most interesting and abrasive on-ice personalities.

But don't count modern-day NHL agitator Sean Avery among them.

The Hall of Famer didn't hide his distaste for the Dallas Stars' pesky winger when asked about Avery's antics on TSN's Off The Record on Wednesday.

"There's always been players who are characters in this game," Clarke told Off The Record's Michael Landsberg. "You may not like them, but they're character guys and character players and they bring something to the game. Avery takes from the game."

The prime example he used was Avery's actions during the first round of last season's playoffs. Avery parked at the edge of Brodeur's crease and waved his arms wildly to distract the Devils' goaltender. He also waved the blade of his stick back and forth in front of Brodeur's mask and later scored on him.

The two players will be reunited Wednesday night when the Stars visit the Devils.

"He's (Avery) making a fool of the game," Clarke told TSN. "He crosses the line all the time. He's an idiot. And if the referees see him giving it to Brodeur like he did in the playoffs - yapping, yapping, yapping - it's pre-meditated. Give him a penalty. You'll end it right away. If not, I think one of the Devils should come to Brodeur's aid. Drill him, punch him, make him fight. If he wants to be a yapper, make him fight."

Clarke, like many around the league, also has an issue with Avery's trash-talking going too far.

"Swearing on the ice goes on all the time," he explained. "And it's okay. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it. A guy like Avery crosses the line and it becomes offensive to your team - who he's playing against - and 'my' team that he's playing on. If you get into people's families and stuff like that you're crossing the line."

But Clarke, no stranger to rough play from his glory days with the Flyers in the 1970s, maintains that Avery can still be an effective player without going over the top.

"He can play and I think he can be an agitator," he said. "But he goes way too far. It's up to Brett Hull and Les Jackson to stop him because it's an embarrassment to hockey."