An arbitrator in Toronto will decide as early as today
Representatives for the rambunctious Avery and Rangers executives presented
their cases at a hearing yesterday. Avery came to New York in a Feb. 5 trade
with the Kings for Jason Ward and provided the Rangers with a much-needed edge
in the final 29 games of the regular season. Avery, 27, is a restricted free
agent who earned $1.1 million last season and sought $2.6 million for the
coming season. The Rangers reportedly offered $1.3 million, so Avery opted for
The left wing scored eight goals and added 12 assists and 58 penalty
minutes. With his in-your-face style he quickly became a Madison Square Garden
favorite as the team went 17-6-6 en route to the Stanley Cup playoffs. For the
season, Avery posted a career-high 48 points (18 goals, 30 assists).
Avery and coach Tom Renney were warned by referees to limit Avery's verbal
goading of opponents. And although Avery generally was circumspect in his
off-ice comments, he did say he wanted "to hurt" the Sabres prior to the
six-game Eastern Conference quarterfinals, during which he was scoreless and
The arbitrator has until tomorrow evening to rule, and then the Rangers
have 48 hours to accept or decline the award, generally a one-year contract. If
they don't accept - which appears unlikely unless the award is more than $2
million - Avery would become an unrestricted free agent.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist avoided arbitration by agreeing to a
one-year, $4.5-million contract. The only other Ranger facing arbitration is
left wing Marcel Hossa, whose hearing is set for Thursday.
Islanders right wing Trent Hunter, who earned $1 million last year, has an
arbitration hearing scheduled for tomorrow, but indications are that Hunter,
27, who scored 20 goals and added 15 assists in 77 games, and the team will
agree on a new pact before the hearing.