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Kings trade Avery to Rangers

February 06, 2007|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Left wing Sean Avery's controversy-filled three-plus seasons with the Kings ended Monday when the team traded him to the New York Rangers in a five-player deal.

In return, the Kings received forward Jason Ward and two prospects, forwards Marc-Andre Cliche and Jan Marek. The Kings also included forward John Seymour, an eighth-round pick in the 2005 draft.

By trading the 26-year-old Avery, the Kings removed a potentially negative influence on players who are part of the team's youth movement. At the same time, the Kings get some value for a player who seemed to hold little at the end of last season.

Cliche, a second-round pick in the 2005 draft, was the linchpin in the deal.

"Where he started to impress me was when we saw him in the Canadian national team camp," Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said. "He seemed like one of those players who would do anything to make the team. The way they put the junior team together, they are cognizant of character guys filling certain roles. I'm not saying he's a top talent, but if character is a talent, that's something he's got in abundance."

Avery's time with the Kings was pockmarked by controversy. Yet this season, he kept a lower-than-usual profile. He hired a personal publicist and avoided the media -- all in an effort to clean up an image tarnished by self-inflicted antics.

Last season is a case in point. The NHL that September reprimanded Avery for a nasty comment he made about French-Canadian players. The next month, he was accused of calling the Edmonton Oilers' Georges Laraque -- who is black -- a monkey, a charge Avery denied. In November, Avery was fined for diving, then fined again for criticizing the NHL for the first fine.

Late in the season, he directed an obscenity-laced tirade at NBC announcer Brian Hayward and a week later was unofficially suspended by the team for refusing to do a drill. Kings players had grown weary of Avery's behavior, but Lombardi re-signed him to a one-year contract, saying that Avery was on "double secret probation."

Avery had 10 goals and 28 points. His 116 penalty minutes led the team. "Let's face it, he's come a long way since last summer," Lombardi said. "When I first got here, there wasn't much of a market for Sean Avery."

chris.foster@latimes.com

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