Undrafted out of Owen Sound (AHL) with a reputation as a mouthy hellraiser, Avery was signed by Detroit as a free agent on Sept. 11, 1999. According to a 2006 story in SI, he "bounded into the dressing room of a Red Wings team with eight surefire Hall of Famers and announced, 'Call me A-Dog.' ('You're no dog,' a teammate replied. 'You're a puppy,' which became Avery's first NHL nickname.) Former Detroit goalie Manny Legace recalls captain Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan 'running him ragged. Sean aggravated a few guys. But we were a veteran team. Mostly we thought he was hilarious.'" As a rookie in 2001-02, Avery lived with his childhood hero and now teammate Brett Hull, who would later sign him to the Dallas Stars with disastrous consequences.