Alexander Frolov and Sean Avery were teammates in Los Angeles, and again this last season in New York. They're also friends, which makes it all the more surprising that Frolov would volunteer the fun fact that Avery uses racial slurs to try to get under opponents' skins.
Frolov, who recently returned to the KHL, gave an interview to Sport.ru. We're using Google translate here, but if you can read Russian, send along a better translation or leave it in the comments. The relevant Q&A:
Why does everyone hate him?
It's probably not so much hate ... (pause). He has specific roles, Sean - just a kind man, and he loves to do, let's say, extravagant things. Often - on the brink of a foul. By the way, is not a stupid guy. Besides, now Avery became calmer, smarter. It used to periodically overwhelmed emotions, he could do some nonsense . Remember each of his indiscretion .... He constantly something happens, it's part of his job. Avery need to be talked about. He is really like Sean likes it in the center of attention, he feels at home. Sometimes calls opponents "black monkeys" ... A lot of things all he did not remember everything, telling a long time can be separately talk about his antics.
The "monkey" meme isn't so much associated with American as it is European sports racism, though Kevin Weekes had a banana thrown at him in Montreal, and Quebec has had its share of trouble with slurs against Aboriginal players and coaches. But the reason we find this allegation against Avery so surprising is that we've never heard it before. There is no shortage of opponents complaining about Avery's antics when he crosses the line (remember the alleged comments toward Jason Blake and his cancer.) If Avery had ever directed racial slurs toward other players, we would have expected an instant uproar and heavy punishment from the league.
So we'll withhold judgment until we hear more about this. And since it's Avery the lightning rod touching the third rail of race, we'll definitely be hearing more soon.
UPDATE: We had forgotten about this, but Georges Laraque accused Avery of calling him a "monkey" back in 2005.