No, I'm not talking about Whitey Ford, the greatest starting pitcher in Yankee history. (Is Mariano Rivera the greatest of all Yankee pitchers? A case can be made.) Edward Charles Ford, the Chairman of the Board, is alive and well. Different Whitey. Nor am I talking about Dorrel Norman Elvert Herzog, who managed the Kansas City Royals into 3 Playoff series against the Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals into 3 World Series (winning in 1982). He is also still alive. Nor am I talking about Richie Ashburn, the great Phillies center fielder and broadcaster, the Delaware Valley's answer to Phil Rizzuto -- right down to the waiting far too long before he was finally elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Alas, he died in 1997.
The Whitey I'm talking about is Colin White. This week, the New Jersey Devils waived the defenseman, their Number 5, and he signed with the San Jose Sharks.
Whitey was an enigma, wrapped in a puzzle, surrounded by a riddle, encased in what the hell. Sometimes, he looked like he just might be the successor as blueline enforcer to Captain Scott Stevens. Other times, he looked like a lazy bum.
In the 2008 season, he suffered an eye injury, which kind of mitigates the "looked like a lazy bum" part. But, if I'm being honest, there were lots of times before that when he was playing like crap.
And yet, he did help the Devils win 2 Stanley Cups, in 2000 and 2003. And he was an integral part of those teams. So I say, "Thank you, Whitey, and I wish you well in San Jose." If the Devils can't win the Stanley Cup, I would have no objection to the Sharks doing so.
It would give the San Francisco Bay Area world championships in all 4 sports, something thus far achieved by 6 metro areas: New York (the last sport to achieve it in being basketball, with the 1970 Knicks), Philadelphia (hockey, the 1974 Flyers -- remember, the A's won 5 World Series before the Phillies won their first in 1980), Detroit (basketball, the 1989 Pistons), Chicago (basketball, the 1991 Bulls), Boston (football, the 2001-02 Patriots) and Los Angeles (hockey, the 2007 Anaheim Ducks). Dallas still needs a World Series to have won all 4 (now that the Mavericks have won an NBA Title), while Miami, St. Louis and Washington still need a Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh almost qualifies having won an ABA title but not having had an NBA team since the league's first season, 1947; Houston almost qualifies having won a WHA Avco Cup but never having had an NHL team.
But since Stevens retired due to post-concussion syndrome, the Devils have never had that intimidator on the blue line, the man who won't put up with any crap from the opposition. And that's been a major weakness. Hopefully, the big bald cheapskate will fix that soon.
With White's departure, Martin Brodeur (who also played on the 1995 Cup winners) and Patrick Elias are the only remaining Devils from the 2000, or even the 2003, Cup winners.
Then there's the Devils' arch-rivals, the New York Rangers, a.k.a. The Scum, a.k.a. the Broadway Boozehounds.
And the scummiest Scummer of them all, Sean Avery.
TMZ tells the story:
NHL star Sean Avery challenged cops to a FIGHT when they responded to his Hollywood Hills home this morning ... calling them, "Fat little pigs" ... law enforcement sources tell TMZ.
We're told cops were dispatched to the home over a complaint about loud music -- and when they arrived to Avery's pad, the hockey star was NOT happy to see them.
Sources tell us 31-year-old Avery immediately began running his mouth at the cops -- telling them he would fight all of them ... even challenging them to, "Come back without your badges."
During the incident, Avery -- who famously dated Elisha Cuthbert a while back -- allegedly shoved an officer and slammed the front door on the cops.
We're told cops began speaking with Avery through the door -- and warned him that if he didn't open the door, they would break it down. That's when Avery decided to open up and cooperate.
As TMZ first reported, Avery was hauled to a nearby station and booked for battering a peace officer. He has since been released after posting bail.
He called them "fat pigs." Good thing he didn't follow the path of Jim Schoenfeld, the Devils' coach in 1988, when he yelled at referee Don Koharski after some bad calls, and tell the cops to "Have another doughnut!"
Avery has been fined by the NHL for picking fights. He's been fined by the NHL for diving. He's spewed bigoted comments about black players. He's spewed bigoted comments about French-Canadian players. He's publicly made obscene comments. His name was found in a prostitute's "little black book." He was called "a selfish ass" -- by John Tortorella, then a broadcaster, and now his head coach.
All this, above and beyond his reprehensible behavior in games with the Devils. Which led Don Cherry, the former Boston Bruins coach who, as a CBC announcer, is the NHL's best-known advocate of aggressive behavior, to say, "I've known this kid since he was about 16 years old. Once a jerk, always a jerk."
Of course, Martin Brodeur wouldn't shake his hand. We all have some ideas as to where that hand has been.
(To be fair, Avery isn't a complete troglodyte. He does support gay rights. Whether that has anything to do with seeing the Rangers' 1979 Sasson jeans commercial, I don't know.)
In 2005, Avery appeared in the film The Rocket: The Maurice Richard Story, about the Montreal Canadiens legend who, had he lived, would have turned 90 yesterday. Avery played Bob Dill, a Ranger of the 1950s, who was also a thug, and who also seemed to have it in for French-Canadians, including Richard, who was already French Canada's greatest icon. In the film, Dill picks a fight with Richard, played by Roy Dupuis, and, well, let's just say that picking a fight with the Rocket was usually a bad idea. Avery-as-Dill got his head handed to him.
I heard on WCBS NewsRadio 880 that Avery's bail for this incident was $20,000. That was probably more than Dill ever made in a single season.
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