sports

The actress and the agitator

One of the NHL's biggest mouths joins hands with a puck-bunny blogger

SHANDA DEZIEL December 19 2005
sports

The actress and the agitator

One of the NHL's biggest mouths joins hands with a puck-bunny blogger

SHANDA DEZIEL December 19 2005

The actress and the agitator

sports

One of the NHL's biggest mouths joins hands with a puck-bunny blogger

SHANDA DEZIEL

Looking like the poor man’s Posh and Becks, actress Elisha Cuthbert (24) and Los Angeles Kings centre Sean Avery recently strolled Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood hand-in-hand. Wearing long winter coats and big sunglasses (and a goofy fur hat on him), they seemed happy enough. That is, until a photographer got a shot of the pair. Then an angry Avery flipped him the bird, which was also caught on film. Last week though, while playing the Maple Leafs, there was little he could do from the ice to keep people from snapping pics of his supportive gal pal sitting rinkside.

Calgary-born Cuthbert, a popular Maxim cover girl, is hockey’s sexiest super-fan—a puck bunny with a blog. So far she’s made four posts to her own NHL.com page. The last one was on Nov. 21, after the Kings beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3, and the 23-yearold actress mused, “Sean Avery scored our second goal of the night. Somehow I feel like that might change things a little for him in the games to come. Watch out for Avery.” Ah, could kind words be key to an NHL agitator’s heart?

Avery, a 25-year-old from Pickering, Ont., has scored only one goal since then, in a game against his former team, the Detroit Red Wings. He’s mostly been racking up the penalty minutes and trying to keep his mouth shut. He recently went three days without talking to the press, and the team has their top media handler on the road with him-all in the hopes of avoiding any more incidents. So far this season, Avery’s been fined for diving, he’s angered Quebecers with his comment about Coyote Denis Gauthier, who he described as “another French guy wearing a visor,” and was accused—and later cleared—of using a racial slur against Edmonton’s Georges Laraque.

But moronic behaviour doesn’t seem to have hurt his rep with the ladies. Last year, he

dated model Rachel Hunter, who’s 11 years his senior and Rod Stewart’s ex-wife—and now Cuthbert, who was engaged to Trace Ayala (Justin Timberlake’s best friend/assistant). The actress seems to have a soft spot for bad guys, even Todd Bertuzzi. “I know what he did was extremely tragic,” she writes on her blog. “It’s just that I’m sure he too has been hurt by this whole ordeal. It just pains me to see him have to deal with the non-stop harassment and of course the booing.”

Cuthbert knows a thing or two about angering fans. Her 24 character, Kim Bauer, was the show’s Achilles heel. Cuthbert may

'I've got a friend who plays for Vancouver, and one who plays for the Blue Jackets and another in Phoenix'

be a good actress—she got her start as a host of Canada’s Popular Mechanics for Kids at age 15, won a Gemini for playing a gambling addict in the TV movie, Lucky Girl, and made a better-than-average teen movie The Girl Next Door—but her TV character became unintentionally laughable. As the perpetual damsel in distress, Kim was kidnapped repeatedly, plummeted over a cliff in a car, arrested twice and caught in an animal trap in the woods, where she faced down a mountain lion. (Cuthbert still has a scar from when the big cat bit her as she was petting him off-camera).

In comparison, Avery seems like a bit of a lightweight. When he showed up at the Red Wings training camp, saying he wanted to be known as a dog, Kris Draper replied: “You’re not a dog, you’re a puppy.” Four years into his NHL career, he’s made some enemies, but other players stand up for him, saying his brash remarks are a strategy to throw off the other team. And as for pretending he doesn’t like being photographed with hot chicks like Cuthbert, his teammates tell a different story. “His head is going to get even bigger now,” said Craig Conroy.

Cuthbert, no doubt, is happy to make an addition to her roster. Her mother plays hockey as does her 14-year-old brother, who plays for his school. On her blog, she says she’s got “a friend who plays for Vancouver, and one who plays for the Bluejackets and another in Phoenix.” And now it looks as if she’s found a boyfriend on the Kings, who might just let her join in on some of his pre-game rituals. “I thought I was bad and I’m not even playing! ! ! ” Cuthbert says about her superstitions. “Where along the way did they discover these habits? Like putting their left side equipment on first or not shaving or showering. I would not be surprised if it went even beyond that. I guarantee they’re dragging their wives into this whole thing too.”

Cuthbert’s blog may be light and fluffy, but she brings some needed celebrity enthusiasm to the NHL. She could be the next Janet Jones—even if Avery’s no Great One. M

ONE FOR THE BOOKS...OH, MY ACHING GROIN

The National Hockey League listed no fewer than 24 players out with groin injuries last week, an incidence in what had already become hockey’s Season of the Groin Injury. Sports physicians at first blamed the epidemic on conditioning problems stemming from the NHL’s year-long lockout. But now they think players’ tender thighs are adjusting to a game made faster by rule changes. A stretch, you might argue, either way.