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Return Engagement: Rangers claim Avery on re-entry waivers

Bob McKenzie

3/3/2009 10:04:21 PM

He's baaaack!

As expected, the New York Rangers claimed Sean Avery on re-entry waivers today and the super pest is back in the NHL.

The Rangers are responsible for half of Avery's remaining contract - another three years with an annual cap hit of $3.875 million. The Dallas Stars are responsible for the other half.

Avery, who had two goals and one assist in six games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL, will rejoin the Rangers in time for Wednesday's practice and is expected to be in the lineup Thursday against the Islanders.

This will be Avery's second tour of duty with the Rangers after spending two years with the Blueshirts under recently fired head coach Tom Renney.

Those who have played with him in the past believe he will be a positive addition to the club.

"I think it will be great," Rangers forward Chris Drury told reporters on Tuesday.  "The only two things that I need to know, and that the other guys in this room need to know is that one: he wants to be here and he wants to be a Ranger.  That he loves wearing this jersey and loves living in New York and two that he wants to win a Stanley Cup."

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist echoed Drury's sentiments while stating that Avery could be a real boost to the team.

"He brings a lot to the table, he supplies a lot of energy and I think he's a really good hockey player when he's focused on the game."

The 28-year old Avery could get a frosty welcome from current Rangers' head coach John Tortorella who has stated in the past that he is no fan of Avery's antics.

As part of the NHL on TSN panel earlier in the season, Tortorella was highly critical of Avery following his comments about actress Elisha Cuthbert, a former Avery flame and current girlfriend of Flames' blue liner Dion Phaneuf.

''Enough is enough. He's embarrassed himself, he's embarrassed the [Dallas] organization, he's embarrassed the league and he's embarrassed his teammates, who have to look out for him. Send him home. He doesn't belong in the league.''

Rangers' general manager Glen Sather sees Avery as a boost to a struggling Rangers squad and believes that his coach and new acquisition will be able to co-exist.

''He doesn't have the history with Sean that we do,'' Sather said on a conference call last week. ''Over time, you learn to love him, just like I do.''

At practice Tuesday, Tortorella discussed the newest addition to the team and what he expects from Avery.

"I coach his situation just like any other player," Tortorella told reporters.  "I believe in the team concept.  I believe in the team helping one another and not stepping out and hurting that team concept.  To me that's where I'm going to approach the situation."

In 23 games with the Stars this season, the Pickering, Ontario native has three goals and seven assists while racking up 77 minutes in penalties before being handed a six-game suspension for his comments regarding Cuthbert.  During his suspension, Avery told the Stars that he needed help dealing with his anger and he was placed in a councelling program run by the NHLPA.