Former NHL pest Sean Avery causes fuss in New York courtroom

Former NHLer Sean Avery was known as a pest during his playing days, and given what he showed in a New York courtroom on Thursday, that attitude has not changed in his retirement.

During his time off the ice, the 42-year-old has bestowed upon himself the title of the hero for New York City bike lanes, and that self-propelled duty led to prosecutors accusing Avery of ramming his scooter into the door of a parked car back in 2019. For this, the former New York Ranger was charged with a misdemeanour of criminal mischief and the case has dragged on ever since.

When Avery attended a virtual hearing two weeks ago, a judge told him that if he was not present for an in-person hearing in the near future, a warrant would be out for his arrest.

On Thursday, the hockey player obeyed and was in attendance – except there was one thing he wanted to make clear.

“I’d like to move forward by representing myself,” he said, per Jonah Bromwich of The New York Times.

Sean Avery last played in the NHL with the New York Rangers in 2011-12. (REUTERS/Shaun Best)
Sean Avery last played in the NHL with the New York Rangers in 2011-12. (REUTERS/Shaun Best)

Soon after he made this declaration, his lawyer, Dmitriy Shakhnevich, left the Manhattan courtroom. Judge John Zhuo Wang advised Avery against self-representation given his lack of legal expertise, but the retired NHLer continued.

After making his decision, Avery stated that he wanted a trial by jury and not a bench trial, with the latter meaning the judge would hear the case and decide on the sentence.

The misdemeanour Avery is charged with carries a fairly light penalty and Avery mentioned that prosecutors had already offered him plea deals that would involve tolerable fines. The most recent offer would require Avery pleading guilty, paying a fine, and attending an anger management program. Avery still refused to accept those terms.

According to reports, there was a 20-minute delay and Avery grew unruly in the courtroom.

“Your honour, I was told there was going to be a trial today,” he said. “I flew in from California to attend this trial.”

He repeatedly insisted on a trial by jury.

“Jury trial,” Avery continued. “That’s where we’re having a problem. I don’t need to accept a bench trial.”

After repeatedly mentioning that he was not entitled to a jury trial, the judge agreed to potentially delay the hearing, but the player stated he was not available until after Labour Day, mentioning how he lives in California and does not “just get on the subway” to be in the courthouse.

Judge Wang decided on a new trial date of May 23, but Avery objected again, and repeated the fact that he lives across the country. The judge then made it clear that if he was not present on the scheduled date, a warrant would be out for his arrest.

The incident that Avery was charged with is not even the most recent time that he allegedly damaged someone else’s car. In 2021, Avery allegedly broke a neighbour’s car mirror in Los Angeles after a long-standing heated feud.

Since retiring from hockey, Avery has tried his hand at acting, modelling, and other short-lived attempts at fame beyond hockey. He appeared in 580 NHL games for four different teams.

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