I’ve always had this chip on my shoulder because of my size, and I was always having to defend myself when I even walked into a room.
A: Yeah, what it says is how much I loved playing for New York.
It was the only place I felt like I belonged with the people.
I realized, “I’m going to turn around and put my hand in his face, because then I’m not going to take a penalty.” That was a perfect example of me trying to stay ahead of them.
I felt that as my career went on, they were trying to find a way to get rid of me.
Are people being encouraged to take risks with their lives for the sake of a team?
A: I think people don’t understand how much hockey players put their bodies on the line.Over an iced tea at a well-heeled Toronto pub, the soft-spoken Avery discusses fighting (both real and pretend), managing anger and pain, and how to thrive when everyone’s out to get you.Q: What can you tell us about the new Peter Berg movie you’ll be appearing in?A: I’m playing a CIA agent, and I have a big scene at the start where I go into a house and kill a bunch of people… I’ve never fought for pretend, which is kind of interesting. Q: The entertainment aspect of fighting should be familiar to you … I used to spin my helmet; it started to become a signature for me—it was the only time that you could have the entire arena stop and just look at you.I always thought guys who’d go toe-to-toe with each other was the stupidest thing in the world, because all you need to do is make sure you land on top of that guy, and then the fans cheer. Q: You write, “The NHL discourages individuality because they like to control things.” Was that a governing aspect of your career—trying to wrest control back from the league?RALEIGH, NC: Sean Avery #16 of the New York Rangers watches action on the ice during a NHL game against the Carolina Hurricanes on December 1, 2011 at RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.