John D. Hanlon/SI
What a week in the sports world. Manny Ramirez returned to the Dodgers, the Cowboys dumped Terrell Owens and Alex Rodriguez's hip injury has cast uncertainty over his upcoming season.
With three of the biggest stars in their respective sports drawing most of the attention, Sean Avery's return to the NHL following a three-month banishment for making crude comments about a former flame went largely unnoticed Thursday night.
Since I couldn't get NHL commissioner Gary Bettman or his disciplinarian deputy Colin Campbell on the phone, I asked the league's all-time enforcer to weigh in on Avery coming back with the New York Rangers.
Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, the former Broad Street bully, was fresh off a standup comedy act this week when we spoke about the NHL's current bad boy as well as his years as the Flyers' resident tough guy.
Q: As someone who was more known for scoring more knockouts than goals, were you happy to see Avery be reinstated?
A: Yeah, I was. He certainly made a mistake. A pretty big one, according to the NHL, and he had to have his attitude adjusted, I guess.
Q: Part of that adjustment was undergoing some sort of behavior counseling. That could cause him to be less of an agitator. How do you see that affecting his play?
A: Hopefully in a positive way. To be more of a team player vs. his own agenda. From my perspective, it seems like he liked to generate publicity for himself. On the other hand, he felt he was helping the team but it really doesn't.
Q: Avery brought negative publicity to a league that is starved for any kind of national attention. Is that necessarily a bad thing?
A: I keep thinking, is Terrell Owens good for the NFL? He's certainly not good for the team. I don't know why I keep thinking Sean Avery and T.O. have some similarity there. Sometimes the NHL is pretty conservative in its thinking. For the most part, I think they would prefer to have no publicity than that kind of publicity. I don't know that it helps. Nor can I probably even say that it hurt. Then he ends up back in New York. That should generate publicity.
Q: You played in the 1970s, which was a pretty politically incorrect time. Back then, were there worst things players said to each other on the ice than what Avery said about his ex-girlfriends?
A: Well, he didn't say them on the ice. He said them to the media. That stuff is not looked upon as ... it's embarrassing, really. In his own mind, I don't think he intended to hurt the game or his team or himself, but he did. I thought it was kind of funny, actually.
Q: Not too many folks laughed when Avery used the term 'sloppy seconds' to describe his ex.
A: (Laughing) He didn't have to be quite that [descriptive]. But initially I thought it was pretty funny. He did it to kind of cause some negative thoughts in another player's mind. Wasn't he playing that player [Calgary's Dion Phaneuf] that night? So he did it for a purpose. But again, that's really not the way to do it. Just go out and play the game.
Q: In all the years you played and for all the fights you got into, did anyone ever recommend that you needed anger management?
A: Well, I took anger management, but I got so mad that I quit halfway through. I'm just trying to be funny. I actually did a standup comedy gig last night in a local place. I used that one. [But] no, I did my thing but I did not want to ever say anything to the media or even on the ice that would in any way make like I was taunting or challenging. I didn't want to do that. If it happened, it happened. But I didn't mean to draw any more attention to myself. If you speak out of line, which he did, it's not good for the team and you're not being a good team player.
Q: Who was the toughest guy you fought?
A: I actually have a list of every guy I fought in my career. I had 188 fights. I fought Terry O'Reilly seven times, so I always say him. There were other guys that were big and tough. In fact, Terry and I didn't like each other even after the game was over. I've been with him at a few different events and we talked a little bit. We're actually going to do our first appearance together at the beginning of April [in Sturbridge, Mass.]. I'd like to do more with him. I think now that we talked a little bit, you have reservations. I became good friends with Keith Magnuson, Clark Gilles, Tiger Williams. I got to know these guys after the game was over.
Q: Seven fights with O'Reilly. It sounds like a Stanley Cup Finals. Who had the edge?
A: To me, it was pretty even. I won a couple, he won a couple and the rest were draws. In this [list] here, he won one more. He won Game 7.
Q: The Flyers beat the Bruins in six games to win the 1974 Stanley Cup. What was it like going into the old Boston Garden? Tough crowd, I'll bet.
A: They weren't quite as bad as they were on the Island. The New York Islanders, their fans were just brutal. That was probably the toughest place for me to go into. Boston was also big-time tough.
Q: You were like the poster boy for the Broad Street Bullies. Were you the best fighter on those Flyers teams?
A: Bob Kelly was tough and [Moose] Dupont was tough. The three of us. [Rick] Macleish could fight, [Orest] Kindrachuk could fight, [Ross] Lonsbury could fight. But those guys didn't fight a whole lot. It was really me and Hound Dog [Kelly]. Dupont also. Kelly would never fight O'Reilly because they were good buddies. They played juniors together. So he didn't have to fight O'Reilly. I did. If I was going to get into a fight with a Boston Bruin, Terry made sure it was him.