NEW YORK (AP) - Sean Avery could rejoin the New York Rangers a lot sooner than expected after being placed on re-entry waivers by the team that has missed his grit early this season.
Avery, banished to Connecticut of the AHL before the Rangers opened the season in Sweden, could be in New York's lineup as soon as Thursday against Anaheim. He was placed on re-entry waivers on Monday by the Rangers, who are trying to recall him. Any NHL team has until noon on Tuesday to make a claim on the noted agitator and assume a portion of his contract.
Avery's deal is already being split between the Rangers and the Dallas Stars. New York re-acquired Avery in March 2009 on re-entry waivers following the forward's highly publicized fallout with the Stars.
It is unlikely that a team will claim Avery, who just got back on the ice last weekend following a shoulder injury. If he goes unclaimed, Avery would immediately join the New York roster.
The Rangers, who were hosting San Jose on Monday in the third game of a six-game homestand, have gotten off to a 3-3-3 start - including 0-1-1 in two home games following a season-opening, seven-game road trip. Chants and banners supporting Avery's return filled Madison Square Garden in losses to Toronto and Ottawa.
New York is missing some of its edge without Avery, and rugged forward Mike Rupp - who was expected to help in the toughness department - is sidelined by a knee injury. Rupp was slated to sit out his third straight game on Monday night.