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Alex Frolov tells Russian media that Sean Avery used racist remarks to agitate opponents

Aug 1, 2011, 11:12 AM EDT

Sean Avery Getty Images

It’s a fact that whenever Sean Avery is made a part of a story the story takes on a life of its own. That’s part of the price when you’re a player as widely disliked as Avery is. When Alexander Frolov, a former teammate of Avery’s in Los Angeles and New York with the Rangers, had a chance to speak with Russian website sports.ru about him, one of his stories is a bit startling.

Frolov, who will be playing in the KHL next season, was asked by sports.ru about what it was like to play alongside Avery. With Avery being such a polarizing and controversial figure in the NHL, it only makes sense to ask what it’s like to play with someone like that.

Slava Malmud of sport-express.ru translates the Q&A portion of the interview with Frolov to give us his startling words.

Q: You have played with Avery for the Kings and Rangers and once called him your friend.
AF: Yes, we are friends and we still communicate. Just not as often, since we live on different continents now.

Q: Why does everyone hate him?
AF: It’s not hate, it’s… He has a specific role, he is a pretty unique man and he likes to do, let’s say, extravagant things. Sometimes they’d be bordering on the forbidden. He isn’t a fool. Lately he has become calmer, smarter. Before he’d get swept away with emotions and do something stupid. To mention each and every one of his stunts… Something always happens around him, it’s a part of his job. He needs to be talked about. He loves it, he feels at home in the spotlight. Sometimes he called opponents “black monkeys.” He did a lot of things, I can’t remember all of them.

All right, that’s a huge bomb to drop after you’ve left town, but Frolov is speaking frankly about a guy who is his friend and a guy who he’s seen go from being a wild hellion on the ice in Los Angeles to a (slightly) more reserved and peaceable activist and fashion conscious guy in New York. We’re almost positive that everyone will blow these quotes out of proportion, but there is a point in history where an allegation was made against Avery for saying as much to a player.

Back in 2005 when Avery was with the Kings, then Edmonton Oilers enforcer Georges Laraque accused Avery of calling him a “monkey” to incite him into action. Avery, in true style for how he was in his more out of control days, said that Laraque made the whole thing up.

“(He) fabricated the whole thing,” Avery said in Friday’s edition of the Los Angeles Times.

“I have no idea why he would do that,” he added. “I heard about it after the game and was surprised.”

Laraque, who is black, alleged Avery made a racial remark during Edmonton’s 3-1 loss. Laraque said that when he went to challenge Avery to a fight after the Kings agitator got tangled up with Oilers finesse player Ales Hemsky, Avery declined to fight and called Laraque “a monkey.”

Since Avery’s days in Los Angeles that saw him get so out of control he racked up north of 250 penalty minutes in back-to-back seasons, he’s gotten counseling for his temper and his attitude to make him be a better person both on and off the ice. Avery’s work in New York State to help get marriage equality passed has earned him kudos from a wide range of fans both hockey and in life. This story and these quotes from Frolov won’t do him any favors, but we’d have to hope that this sort of hateful nonsense is all in his past.

The role of a pest on the ice is always to push the boundaries of good taste and even ethics in order to goad your opponents into taking a bad penalty that could hurt their team. In Avery’s past, he may or may not have done things that would make anyone in their right mind think poorly of him. He may still do it now. Who knows?

The fact is, we haven’t heard of anything from Avery relating to such hateful things in years and Frolov sharing his story so flippantly means that it’s all in the past. That’s not to excuse him for doing these things back then, but before you form the line to protest the man, just know that everyone changes and sometimes it’s for the better.

Avery is a different guy now. He’s just as good at getting under an opponent’s skin as he ever has been, but there’s a difference in how he goes about it now as opposed to six or seven years ago when there was more malice to his work. It’s not to say that he’s a Zen master now, but his speckled past coming back to bite him now seems a bit much.

  1. lloydcarr1997 - Aug 1, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    I’ve never understood why people get worked up when someone says something raciest. There is not a single thing you could say to me about my race religion or sexuality that could get me worked up.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 1, 2011 at 1:55 PM

      Its called spur of the moment. When you play a sport and are of the minority, you hear it non-stop. And it just takes one time for you to snap. As a Black who plays ice hockey and lacrosse, I can see why Avery would use racist slurs to rile up his opponents.

    • stakex - Aug 1, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      Exactlly. We all know there are people out there who will hate you for your race, religion, gender, or sexual orentation… so why is it a shock to people when they hear a slur? Not to mention that just because someone uses a slur, does not mean they are a racist. When your trying to piss someone off, your going to say what ever will do that… and thats clearly all Avery was doing. Its no big deal.

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 1, 2011 at 3:43 PM

        Its the effect of spur of the moment. When you are in a middle of a game you aren’t think, ‘Man, someone might call a n$#@%^ or a monkey.’ You are focused on the game. So when you hear someone utter such hurtful words it erks ya nerves. I’ve been on the receiving end of slur attacks and it does get my blood a’boiling ha. It one just has to work on self-control.

    • grudenthediva - Aug 1, 2011 at 5:46 PM

      Spoken like a true WASP male whom has likely never endured a hint of prejudice in his entire life.

  2. philk0731 - Aug 1, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    Haha…I like Avery even more now

  3. stakex - Aug 1, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    This kind of talk happens on the ice ALL THE TIME… and its suppose to stay on the damn ice. You have any idea how often I hear slurs, racist comments, and out right dirty stuff when I play? A whole lot… but once your off the ice it never happened, and all is forgiven. Thats how its suppose to be.

    Did Avery say this? Probably… and you better believe hes not the only one. Trash talking with anything you possibly can to get to someone is part of hockey. Its not racism, and its not personal. Don’t read anything into this.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 1, 2011 at 3:47 PM

      I wouldn’t go that far and say it’s not racism. Racism still exists today. You can get under someone’s skin without addressing their ethnicity. Hockey players can chirp with the best of them. If someone blurts out racial slurs that speaks volumes about the person. Does it automatically mean they are racist? No. But you have all the reason to question someone when they talk that way. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit a wise man once said. That adage still holds true today.

    • cannonblast14 - Aug 1, 2011 at 6:31 PM

      Theres better more appropriate ways to trash talk and i think just about every hockey player has enough class to find better alternatives than race.

      • stakex - Aug 1, 2011 at 6:53 PM

        Spoken like someone who has quite obviously never played compedative hockey. As someone who actually has played hockey for a lot of years I can strait up tell you that your so wrong its not even funny. I’ve heard more then my fair share of slurs during my time playing… so clearly your assumption that “just about every hockey player has enough class to find a better alternative that race” is quite wrong. The reason you don’t see more reports like this has only to do with the fact there are so few minority players in the NHL. If there was more, it would be much more common… and you better believe they go the other way as well (I’ve been called a “honkey” on the ice more then once).

        If you have never played the game at a higher level then your local D league, its tough to understand exactlly what its like on the ice. You can’t imagine some of the things that get said on the ice. In fact, calling someone a monkey is pretty tame compared to some of the crap you hear.

      • cannonblast14 - Aug 1, 2011 at 11:50 PM

        stakex. Beer league is not considered “compedative hockey”. Sorry. Im not saying that harsh things arent said on the ice, they obviously are. But i feel that just about every NHL player has enough class to find alternatives than race. Maybe not in your crap league because you are probably in the classless group saying racist remarks.
        Stay classy stakex.

  4. icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 1, 2011 at 10:40 PM

    @stakex, who exactly is calling you ‘honkey?’ Unless you play in an all-black league, then idky anyone of a minority would resort to calling you that. And yes, people have said worse things but doesn’t make it anymore less offensive. You wouldn’t understand. Nor do I expect ya to. But until you have been in the shoes of someone who is usually the only one of his/her kind in the rink, it’s tough to take your opinion with any weight.

  5. nyncsports - Aug 2, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Avery your the Man. The Rangers better not get rid of him

  6. derpdederpdederp - Aug 2, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    not surprising at all

  7. nolliabed - Aug 2, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    So I guess only NBA players can use the word “n!gger”……….because they do and they do all day everyday and no one and I mean no one says anything about it. In fact, from what I’ve seen over the last 40 yrs. is you can only be a racist if your white. I know of several black people who are huge racist but no one has the guts to call them out.
    Look people it’s only a word and if I want to use it I should be able to just like everyone else. Oh wait, I guess not because I’m white???????????
    Only minorities can do and say what they want. Say what you want, but it’s the truth.

  8. icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:29 AM

    How can you say its only a word? You are smarter than that. And are NBA players the only black people in America? I’m sure not EVERY black person in the NBA uses the word. But when blacks use the word it seems to enable people like you who think its okay to use it. I’m black and I refuse to use the word just because of people like you. When some people murder does it make it okay for everyone else to start doing the same? C’mon dude. Be part of the solution. Not the problem.

  9. bikey1277 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    Wow. So much love for Avery. I am truly surprised by some comments. And Mr. Yeardon, you are way too easy on the guy in the article. If I use the word in a basketball game I’d get the crap beaten out of me. If a player in the NBA uses the word in a game he’d get crucified by the media and possibly suspended as well. Avery is smarter now than he was years ago, but he is still the same jerk he was. He’s just a jerk with better timing. Ask Ladislav Smid about Avery’s timing. It was perfect. Avery decked him half a second after he took his eyes off of Avery. Class act. And a racist. At least a part time racist.

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