Ranger Wears Prada: Hockey Player to Intern at Vogue Magazine

N.Y. Rangers' Sean Avery will intern at Vogue magazine this summer.


April 23, 2008 — -- Macho man and provocateur Sean Avery -- by some accounts the most hated player in the National Hockey League -- will be joining the estrogen-infused world of fashion as an unpaid intern at Vogue magazine.

Just last week, Avery helped the New York Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the NHL play-offs with his usual in-your-face tricks: agitation, verbal taunts and fighting.

In his 14 months as a Rangers left wing, Avery has tallied 212 penalty minutes, which makes many wonder if he can handle editorial collaboration and taking orders as an intern.

"We are going to have to see how far the Rangers go to determine when he will start, but he will certainly be here and get an internship with a variety of editors," Patrick O'Connell, director of communications for Vogue, told ABCNews.com. "I don't know if he'll be writing yet, but he will be doing regular tasks."

That means the stocky, 28-year-old athlete -- who is in the midst of the NHL playoffs --- will be "answering phones, working photo shoots, getting samples, contacting people, working the gamut," according to O'Connell.

The magazine internship is not without precedent. Matt Chatham, the starting linebacker for the New York Jets, was a writing intern at Esquire in 2004 and, according to one inside source, "was a really nice kid and did well."

Avery, who makes $2 million a year with the Rangers and has cavorted with starlets since his days with the Los Angeles Kings, initiated the contact with Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

"He is ridiculously obsessed with fashion," Avery's publicist Nicole Chabot told ABCNews.com. "He loves it more than anything in the world. It's something he has always wanted to do."

Chabot admits Avery is an agitator in the "old-style" of hockey and a "blabber mouth," but off ice the player is "surprisingly articulate, creative and savvy," she said.

He's also charming, she noted. "There is not a woman that doesn't fall in love with him in five minutes."

Though his assignments are "evolving," Avery will go to Paris Fashion Week with international editor-at-large Hamish Bowles, according to Chabot.

Avery, who never earned a college degree because he was drafted into the NHL right after high school, has said he wants to be a fashion magazine editor.

Rangers' fans are well familiar with Avery's fashion sense. He may be the first hockey player ever to sport a pair of trendy glasses in the Rangers official yearbook.

"He is serious about learning the fashion industry and to that end, we are happy to give him a chance," said O'Connell. "He certainly has a demonstrated history. It makes sense."

Does it?

Avery is widely known for his brutal antics on the ice and was ranked second on the team last season in penalty minutes.

He is "what hockey people call an agitator," writes The New Yorker's Nick Paumgarten. "His job, which seems to have no analogue in sports -- or in any line of work, except maybe terrorism -- is to annoy his opponents so intensely that they cannot resist retaliating. He goads foes into losing their focus and, in theory, the game."

During the recent playoffs against the New Jersey Devils, he waved his stick in the face of goalie Martin Brodeur, later scoring for the Rangers and forcing the NHL to rewrite the penalty rules. Stick-waving is now "unsportsmanlike conduct."

Avery has been accused of bad-mouthing his native Canada, saying he liked the U.S. dollar better. He even allegedly ridiculed the Toronto Maple Leaf's forward Jason Blake, who has cancer, later suing the Canadian radio station that reported his remarks.

"He's an idiot," Pittsburgh Penguin Gary Roberts told The New Yorker after a tussle earlier this year, for which Roberts received four penalty minutes and Avery got none.

But Barry Melrose, hockey commentator and analyst for ESPN, challenges the notion that Avery can't get along and predicts the player will do well at Vogue.

"His team mates like him and so do the Rangers' fans," Melrose told ABCNews.com. "The fans of the other 29 teams don't like him, but is one of the most popular Rangers. Sean is a very smart kid -- a kid from (Ontario) Canada who's going to work for Vogue."

Before signing with the Rangers as a free agent last year, Avery played for the Los Angeles Kings, displaying a flair for both fashion and celebrities. He has been linked to actresses Elisha Cuthbert and Mary Kate Olsen.

The New York Post's Page 6 column ran a photo of presidential daughter Barbara Bush, asking if she was dating an eligible Ranger after she'd been seen at playoffs. His publicist told ABCNews.com that Bush was actually at the game with Vogue editors.

When Lindsay Lohan turned up at Madison Square Garden for a game recently, gossip columnists speculated she had her eye on Avery. That too, was only a rumor, said Chabot.

"He spent a few years in L.A. dating supermodels and running around with the in crowd," said Melrose, former coach for the Kings. "When he came to New York he did the same things. And he's a sharp dresser on the cutting edge of everything. He's one of the NHL guys who dressed to the nines and always looks good."

"Don't forget that these agitators are the smartest guys on the team," said Melrose. "They don't do anything on the spur of the moment and I can guarantee he'll do great at Vogue."

New York's #16 was fourth in the plus/minus rating for the Rangers and tied for third in game-winning goals last season. With Avery in the line-up, the Rangers have recorded 50 wins, 20 losses and 16 ties in 86 games. His winning advantage is clear: In the 25 games he didn't play, the team record was 9-13-3.

"They say he's always had a flair for fashion and gifts to his girlfriends, like designer bags and gowns," said Tia Brown, executive editor of In Touch Weekly. "That is an extension of his personality. He is a young multi-millionaire with the opportunity to live out every facet of his dreams."

"Being an intern is far from the glory of a hockey star," she said. "But I doubt if he will do all the mediocre and menial tasks and will be better than most positions."

"I can't imagine it's a regular internship," said Brown. "Getting coffee for people, sorting out the clothes in the closet and making the runs to pick up the designers, filing, logging clothes: Can you imagine him going to Starbucks for the associate editor? All of those jobs are beneath him. It's an opportunity for him to see close up the fashion styles on the runway."

The internship is a "win, win," for both Avery and Vogue, according to Brown. Reality shows like "The Hills" -- the star interned at Teen Vogue -- and movies like, "The Devil Wears Prada," have glamorized the fashion industry. Avery's rough, athletic appeal gives new cache to Vogue.

"He raises the profile of the magazine and makes more people talk about it," she said. "This is something different for Vogue. They don't need the publicity, but it is a great opportunity to have a heterosexual male at a fashion magazine."

But, she concedes, Avery's motivation could be "calculating and manipulating" -- a way to take advantage of his celebrity.