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The controversy started early in his career; Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said he unloaded Avery during the 2002–03 season partly because he didn't seem to have respect for the game.

In November 2007, Howard Berger a reporter for Toronto radio station FAN 590 stated that an unnamed Rangers player had accused Avery of commenting about Toronto Maple Leafs player Jason Blake's battle with leukemia, prior to a pre-game confrontation between Avery and Toronto's Darcy Tucker.

Since no NHL team claimed him, he returned to the AHL's Connecticut Whale.

His last game played with the Whale was on January 27, 2012.

The Red Wings went on to win the Stanley Cup that season, but Avery did not play in the playoffs nor did he play the required 41 games to get his name engraved on the Cup.

Midway through the 2002–03 season, Avery was traded to the Los Angeles Kings.

After clearing waivers on February 9, 2009, Avery was assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers' AHL affiliate, although he remained a member of the Stars organization (that season, the Stars had no AHL affiliate).

On October 31, 2011, the Rangers placed Avery on 24-hour re-entry waivers.

After joining the Rangers, he scored 20 points in 29 games to help the team complete a 17–4–6 end-of-season run to qualify for the playoffs.In 2003–04, Avery played 76 games for the Kings, scoring 9 goals to go along with 19 assists. During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Avery briefly played in the Finnish Elite League with the Lahti Pelicans, and in the United Hockey League for the Motor City Mechanics.Along with 149 penalty minutes in just 16 games, he tallied 26 points for the Mechanics, including two hat tricks, making him the first player in Mechanics history to record two hat tricks in one season.Several players spoke publicly of their dissatisfaction with the NHL Players' Association’s leadership during the lockout, including Avery, who publicly blamed NHLPA president Bob Goodenow for wasting an entire season with a battle that alienated fans and yielded few results.Avery led the league in penalty minutes for the second consecutive season in 2005-06, with 257.

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