Hours before Sidney Crosby announced his return, Sean Avery said goodbye.
A guest on the Watch What Happens live program Monday night, Avery told host Andy Cohen that he was “officially retired. I threw my skates in the Hudson.”
Avery told the New York Post Tuesday that his statement “wasn’t a joke. I’m retiring at the end of the season and it’s OK. I guess that was my retirement press conference.” He told the newspaper that he will work in advertising.
If this is the end of Avery’s career as a professional hockey player, he leaves with 90 goals and 157 assists for 247 points in 580 NHL games and 1,533 penalty minutes. In two stints with the Rangers, Avery totaled 45 goals, 78 assists, 123 points and 601 penalty minutes in 264 games.
However, he became ineffective once Tom Renney was replaced by John Tortorella.
Avery did not make the team out of training camp — Tortorella told reporters in Sweden that he thought the Rangers had “better players than Sean Avery, plain and simple,” — but was called up on Nov. 1.
When he returned, Avery was a good soldier, saying, “A lot of things happened to me over my career. All I can do is work hard and stay positive. I’ve learned that as goes on. There’s a level of expectation here. That’s what you sign up for. Play responsible. That goes for everybody. Come to work, work hard. Not going to read anything into the situation.”
However, he was placed on waivers on Dec. 31. Once he cleared, Avery was demoted to AHL Connecticut. Last week, the Whale released its roster for the upcoming AHL playoffs and Avery’s named was not listed. During his tenure in Connecticut, Avery was scratched due to undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
It was not the first time Avery got in trouble off the ice. One of the most polarizing players in league history, Avery was suspended and sent to behavioral counseling after referring to an ex-girlfriend as “sloppy seconds.”
Avery is in the final year of a four-year, $15.5 million contract.
Lundqvist feeling ill
The Rangers announced in the afternoon that goaltender Chad Johnson was called up from AHL Connecticut due to Henrik Lundqvist having the flu. Ryan Callahan (foot) and Michael Del Zotto (hip) also missed the game due to lingering injuries.
Tortorella was circumspect in an abbreviated pre-game press briefing, saying “no” when asked if the organization was concerned if the injuries to Callahan and Del Zotto could become a long-term issue.
The Hurricanes called up defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti from AHL Charlotte on Monday. Sanguinetti was drafted 21st overall by the Rangers in the 2006 draft but never panned out. The Rangers traded the Trenton-born Sanguinetti to Carolina on June 26, 2010, for two draft picks.
He has 35 points (eight goals and 27 assists) in 49 games with the Checkers this season.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.