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Evan Grossman | Staff Writer
Feb 9, 2007, 10:22 AM EST

Maybe all he needed was a change of scenery.

If, in fact, that’s all NHL bad boy Sean Avery needed to be better known for his game rather than his mouth, he couldn’t have asked for a more dramatic change of address. The Los Angeles Kings traded Avery to the New York Rangers Monday with prospect John Seymour, in exchange for Jason Ward and prospects Marc-Andre Cliche and Jan Marek.

Avery, the NHL’s reigning penalty minutes champion, heard all the rumors leading up to the trade. He read in the papers that the Kings were shopping him, so it was natural to hope that he would land in a particular place, in a certain jersey. Turns out, he got his wish.

He wanted to be a Ranger.

“I’m excited to be a Ranger, primarily, and a New Yorker, second,” he said. “It’s fun coming to a big market that’s going to be in the playoffs. It’s exciting. Very exciting.”

The excitement produced his first point -- an assist -- with his new team Tuesday night in a 3-2 shootout loss against the Devils. Avery played 17:36 in that game, the most ice time he’s gotten in a single night in almost a month.

Avery is pumped up to play for a new team, an Original Six club, and in Madison Square Garden, the World’s Most Famous Arena. He’s excited for the stretch run, he’s excited about the playoff battle, and more than anything else, Avery is excited to begin a new chapter in his career.

“I think this whole season was an adjustment period because I was taking my game to a different place and trying obviously to limit the penalties and the fighting and things like that,” Avery said. “So it’s been an adjustment period, nothing too difficult. But the main thing is maybe it took a little away from my game. But there’s a happy medium and I think I’ve found it and I’ll be effective for the team.”

Previous chapters have read like a Stephen King horror story at times. Always considered a volatile sparkplug, a player you hated to play against but loved to have on your side, Avery has started his share of controversy for the things he’s said and done. Last season, he led the NHL with 257 penalty minutes, a total that included 71 minors, nine majors, four misconducts and three gross misconducts.

His tendency to fly off the handle eventually made him expendable to the Kings organization.

“Sometimes players just take a little time to mature,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi said. “Sean's still young, hopefully he'll continue to do so. He's going to a big stage now. If he continues (to mature), he'll do just fine. From the summer, when I first got there, there wasn't much of a market for Sean Avery. He's made progress.”

Avery, who broke in with Detroit before he was traded to the Kings as part of the Mathieu Schneider deal in 2003, admits he may have been less than mature at times earlier in his career.

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