It always seems like a matter of time with Sean Avery, doesn't it? The former NHL bad boy only strays from the public eye for so long before the spotlight finds him embroiled in yet another troubling incident.
So it was no surprise to see the New York Post reporting on Wednesday that Avery, now a budding actor, had walked away from his off-Broadway play Negative is Positive just two days before the production was scheduled to open
The spark that set him off? A slice of pizza.
According to playwright Christy Smith-Sloman, an assistant stage manager approached Avery on Tuesday and asked if he wanted a slice. He said no, then accused the woman of calling him “an a--hole.”
“He said I was ‘talking [bleep]' and said I was ‘so full of [bleep],'” the stage manager told The Post. “That’s when I realized that I was dealing with a madman.”
Director Andreas Robertz said Avery then asked him, "Don't you know who I am?" at which point he stormed out.
"He’s a playwright’s worst nightmare," Smith-Sloman said. “It’s unbelievable he would do this two days before we open. At this point I don’t want him to be a part of this production. He can’t call people pieces of [bleep] and say, ‘Do you know who I am?’ [He] can’t threaten people.”
It's worth noting here that Avery hasn't commented on this story and we don't yet have his side of the events that led to him quitting the production. It's entirely possible that his version paints an entirely different picture. But even someone who is inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt has to admit this incident fits a pattern of behavior that's gone beyond colorful and eccentric and veered toward disturbing and irrational.
Avery's mental health has been the focus of interventions in the past, most notably by former Dallas Stars GM Brett Hull and coach Dave Tippett in the wake of his ill-considered comments in 2008 about former girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert and other anti-social actions around the team. But those incidents were merely off-putting. As others have piled up—the feuds with John Tortorella and Wayne Simmonds, his arrest for assaulting a police officer, the racial slurs—so has the concern that his ongoing erratic behavior might be leading somewhere very dark.
We've seen that happen too many times lately, from the suicide of Robin Williams to the prolonged public breakdown of actress Amanda Bynes.
That's why we can't just laugh at Avery's antics anymore. These aren't the actions of an enfant terrible. If this latest incident went down as reported, it's clear that he doesn't need to grow up. He needs help.
Here's hoping someone near him steps up and helps him get it if that's the case.