NEW YORK -- Sean Avery could be back with the Rangers in time for Thursday's home game against the Anaheim Ducks, and coach John Tortorella can't wait to have him.
The Rangers put Avery on re-entry waivers Monday at noon, less than a month after he was banished to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL before the season. Avery will stay on waivers for 24 hours, giving every team in the League a chance to claim him. If he goes unclaimed, he'll replace the injured Michael Rupp, whose long-term health is in question due to a nagging knee injury, on the Rangers' fourth line.
"Rupper has a lot to do with this. We're concerned about that," Tortorella said. "This is the right decision. It's the right hockey decision now and it was the right hockey decision when we sent Sean down. That's where it's at."
Rupp met with doctors Monday at about 3 p.m., according to Tortorella, who had not received word of Rupp's prognosis when he spoke with the media at about 5 p.m.
Avery won't be available for Monday night's game vs. the Sharks, but it's likely he'll be on the minds of fans at Madison Square Garden.
In the home opener against the Maple Leafs, a banner hung at the Garden asking the Rangers to bring back Avery. In that game and in the next one against the Senators, chants of "We Want Avery" rang out at different points.
But the fan favorite fell out of favor with the Rangers. Avery's propensity for taking penalties began to outweigh his ability to draw them and create offense. Now that he's back, Tortorella wants Avery to once again attempt to toe the line.
"Sean's biggest strength are his legs. He's a terrific skater," Tortorella said. "A big part of his game is his forechecking and his play underneath the hashmarks. We want him to play to his strengths and also work on the other parts of the game away from the puck."
In two games with the Whale, Avery had 1 goal and 7 penalty minutes. He missed time to start the season due to a shoulder injury.
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