NEW YORK — Sean Avery's glasses had clear frames, and his expression revealed a smile instead of the concerned scowl he sported the last time he showed up at NHL headquarters.
So much has changed for hockey's biggest pest in the five months since he was called to New York to face punishment that threatened his playing career.
Avery was back at the NHL's U.S. epicenter this week, but instead of paying a visit to commissioner Gary Bettman and disciplinarian Colin Campbell, the New York Rangers forward had a pleasant sitdown for a radio interview at the league's flagship store located next to NHL headquarters.
Avery has criticized the NHL's marketing tactics in the past, and has suggested the league focus on villain-like players as well as well-known stars. He has softened his stance, and even though he was right outside headquarters it wasn't -- because the league decided to focus a campaign on him.
"All of that stuff is out of my hands at this point," Avery said after his radio appearance. "If I come in and do an interview, I represent the Rangers and represent New York. I'm not concerned about who is doing their job or who isn't doing their job. I did enough worrying about that and it didn't really get me anywhere. They can go in whatever direction they feel like."
A hearing in December landed him a six-game suspension from the league after he made crude comments regarding players dating his former girlfriends. His transgressions prompted the Dallas Stars to waive Avery, paving the way for him to return to the Rangers in March after a minor league stint.
Avery sported dark shades and hurriedly moved to and from a waiting car without stopping to speak to reporters back then. His mood and appearance this time were markedly brighter as he moves deeper into an offseason he guaranteed would be fun.
The Rangers' season ended following a short playoff stay. Despite taking a 3-1 series lead over the Washington Capitals, New York couldn't close the deal and was knocked out with a 2-1 loss in Game 7.
"Usually for a couple of days you're bummed out about it and you play over all the games in your head three or four times, but I went away and it's kind of out of my system," Avery said. "I'm more excited about next year than dwelling on last year."
Avery took a weeklong vacation to Jamaica and then returned to New York, the place he called the best city in the world, and opened a downtown bar and restaurant this weekend called Warren 77.