Sean Avery was one of the NHL's most notorious instigators in his 14-year career. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Former NHL trouble-maker Sean Avery admitted to TSN's Michael Landsberg that his many controversial quotes and antics definitely crossed the line, but were designed to give his team an advantage.
Avery, who earned a reputation as an instigator in his 14 years with four different teams -- plus, a suspension for a callous remark about a celebrity ex-girlfriend and a new rule named after him in 2008 -- openly discussed his habit for headline-grabbing sound bites and goading opponents.
"Over the 12 years that I played I said some of the worst things that you could ever possibly imagine. And every time I did it because I thought that it was going to give me or my team an advantage," Avery said.
"You can pull hundreds of examples of things that I said over my career, but the bottom line is I was extremely good at it.
"I was what I was. I remember Steve Yzerman telling me to just play because you're a good player. It didn't matter; nothing was going to change how I approached the game and how I played. Nobody was going to tell me differently."
Avery currently splits his time as an advertising executive, helping players gain awareness of physical and mental health issues, and as a board member of Athlete Ally, a non-profit organization that encourages people in sports to be open and understanding of others' sexual orientations.
"The reason I decided to stop and move in a different direction was certainly the restrictions that were put on me from early on," he said. "I think that I pushed the boundaries as far as I could push them.
"Why would I fight this anymore? First of all, it's not healthy. Second, it's not fun - no matter how much money you're getting paid."