Former New York Rangers forward Sean Avery, 41, signs with ECHL team

Sean Avery has signed a standard player contract with the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears, the team announced Wednesday.

The 41-year-old forward last appeared in an NHL game on Dec. 10, 2011, with the New York Rangers. He has been added to the team's reserve list.

"These guys have been great. They're letting me see if I can get into shape and we'll see what happens," said Avery.

Coach Drake Berehowsky said Avery reached out to him and asked if he could join the team. Berehowsky said he's watching to see if Avery can keep up with the pace and then eventually give the team a hand.

"I told Drake today to give me a couple of days before he tells me I'm nuts," said Avery.

Avery played 580 games in the NHL with the Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars, scoring 90 goals with 157 assists. The Rangers demoted him to the American Hockey League's Connecticut Whale in the 2011-12 season, where he was a frequent healthy scratch. Avery announced his retirement from the NHL in March 2012 on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" and told host Andy Cohen that he had thrown his skates into the Hudson River.

Since December, Avery had been skating in a weekly hockey game in Los Angeles at the Kings' practice rink.

Avery released a video Tuesday indicating that he was in Winter Park, Florida, and had dropped his equipment off at the rink before skating with the Orlando Solar Bears. Avery said Berehowsky, was playing defense for the Toronto Maple Leafs when Avery watched his first NHL game as a child.

Avery was known as one of the NHL's preeminent agitators during his career, and his antics frequently ran afoul of the League.

In the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs, Avery stood face to face with New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur and raised his stick and his hands to distract him. The NHL then reinterpreted its unsportsmanlike conduct rule to ban such an act, in a move that became known as "The Avery Rule." In December 2008, Avery was suspended for six games and sent into management counseling after making a derogatory comment about an opponent's girlfriend, whom he had previously dated.

After retiring, Avery had begun acting career, appearing as "Red Soldier 1" in the Christopher Nolan film "Tenet."

The Solar Bears are in fourth place in the ECHL's South Division with 53 points.