Hell on Ice!

Is the L.A. Kings? Sean Avery?the league leader in penalty minutes, Hollywood hookups, and outrageous quotes?the worst thing to happen to hockey since the lockout? Or the best?

So what?s the deal, is the penalty-minute title something you?re actively pursuing?
I think it just happens. I?m trying to get rid of it. At times there are things I do that I probably shouldn?t. But I think when those times happen now, they?re unstoppable. I think I?ve cleaned up my act as much as I can to this point.

Doesn?t it hurt your team that you spend so much time in the penalty box?
It does, but a lot of my penalty minutes have been 10-minute misconducts at the end of games. Yelling at refs or when something really bad has happened, or we?re losing and I just can?t control my emotions anymore.

You?re 5’9″, not tall for an enforcer. Where does your mean streak come from?
My mom. She?s getting older now, but she used to be a bit of a crazy woman. In a good way.

Who?s the most overrated NHLer?
Shane Doan in Phoenix, for sure.

He has more goals and assists than you, by the way.
He probably makes three million more than me, too. How many points does he have? I?m sure he doesn?t have that much more than me. He?s a whiner. A lot of the respect he gets is because he?s just a clean-cut guy. He seems like a real yes-man to me.

Which player would you love to cross-check into the boards?
The guy I owe the most right now is Kirk Maltby from Detroit. He busted in my nose earlier this year. I was going after Chris Chelios, and there was a big pile, and it happened so quick. When people come together, they?re coming from all angles. And it was more of a really, really giant bitch slap. I don?t think Maltby knows how to punch, he just knows how to slap. He got me good. But I know Malts would never square off and fight me. If I dropped my gloves, he?d skate away and I?d get a penalty.

Are there other guys you get pumped to face?
There are a few guys on Anaheim I would really like to do a number on. I?m not a big fan of Andy McDonald. He?s an arrogant little midget who would never back up anything he says in his life.

Anybody you?re afraid of?
Uh, no. There?s some pretty scary girls that work the door in L.A., at the clubs.

Are hockey players the toughest pro athletes?
Yeah, no question. A football player would never get his face busted like this [points to right eye, which is black and blue from taking a puck in the face] and finish a game. A baseball player would never even think of it. That dude would already be at the hotel eatin? [laughs].

What goes through your mind during a fight?
At the point when you actually drop your gloves and square off with a guy, everything kind of goes away. It?s like watching a movie with that slow-frame motion. You just kind of zone in. It?s kind of like a Matrix experience. You know it?s loud, but you don?t really hear it. It?s cool.

Before a game, are there certain guys you?re aiming to fight?
Yeah, sometimes it?s preset. There?s a guy you don?t like, and you have it in your head that you just want to fight him. But a lot of the time it just happens during the game. A guy takes a cheap shot at one of your guys. It usually starts that way.

Are there nights when you think, Man, I?d really like to pound someone?s face in?
Yeah. That usually happens when you?ve lost. And not by one or two goals, but a blowout. Pretty much every time there?s a blowout, I get upset and take it out on someone.

What?s up with pulling guys? shirts over their heads? Do they teach you that in junior hockey?
It just makes sense. If you pull his jersey over his head he can?t see, and you can just punch away.

Seems like kind of a dishonorable way to fight.
You try to win at any expense. That?s the whole point of sports.

What?s made you the most hated guy in the league?
I?d say it?s mostly the on-ice stuff. I talk a lot of trash. I told one guy he should let his dog lick his face, not chew it. When I really, really dislike a guy, I usually start in on the wife. I usually just say that his wife is either fat or ugly. One of the two.

Do you feel like every team has someone gunning for you?
Always. I?m so used to it now, it?s just an assumption going into every game that somebody?s going to be up my ass.

Ever worry that if you get traded, you?re going to have to face guys you?ve badmouthed?
I?m sure at some point I?m going to have to look at these guys and say, ?Hey, you know, no hard feelings.? Hopefully everyone will be cool with it.

How did the lockout affect hockey?
It probably saved the game. The year off was the best thing that could have happened. We needed to reevaluate, and they did it and changed the rules. And our marketing is so much better now. Here in L.A., we?ve sold out every game.

Are shootouts good for the game, or just hockey?s way of selling out to increase ratings?
They?re awesome. I don?t know why everyone looked upon it as this dreaded thing where we were selling out. It?s a breakaway, it?s a shootout. You decide regular-season games by it. It?s great for the fans. We, as players, like watching it probably more than anyone.

Has there been too much hype around Sidney Crosby?
The kid has proved that he?s a big-time player. Thank God for the league that it actually worked like LeBron. He?s good, the guy can play.

You?ve dated Rachel Hunter and Elisha Cuthbert. What?s your secret?
I must have a really good smile [laughs]. I?ve got a great personality as well.

So who is L.A. sports? most eligible bachelor?
I don?t know. We never see any of the baseball players, so I don?t think they are doing anything. Kobe is married. Luke Walton is trying to have game, but I don?t think he does. Matt Leinart, maybe. These guys need to take advantage of it a little more.

You?re known as a partyer. Ever show up to practice hung over?
Yeah. That?s part of what being an athlete is. If you burn the candle at both ends, you gotta be able to do it at work. I?m young enough and in good enough shape. Not a lot of people work in L.A., and there are a lot of parties.

After the NHL fined you for diving, they fined you again for discussing the fine. How much did that piss you off?
It?s a joke. At least the other leagues let you have an opinion. Our sport is just so blue-collar. We can?t even warm up with our helmets off in L.A. You would think that in L.A. you would want to be able to see the guys? faces at some point. Why can I not have the right to my opinion? I?m the only one that ever says anything, really, so it?s easy for them to do it to me. If more guys said some things, it?d be a lot tougher to keep fining a bunch of guys.

But you?re not losing sleep over the 1,000 bucks.
No, but what I am losing sleep over is the fact that I?m not allowed to speak my mind. What happened to freedom of speech? It?s nonexistent in sports. I mean, when does a reporter ever ask a hockey player about his political views? You?ve never heard that.

So what are your political views?
I don?t really have any [laughs]. I guess that?s why they don?t ask!

Are you afraid the junk you talk will come back to haunt you?
It hasn?t caught up to me yet, so I just keep crossing my fingers.