KARINA SMIRNOFF, SEAN AVERYDancing with the Stars vet Karina Smirnoff is always up for a challenge on the reality competition, but can she convince current celeb partner and former NHL bad boy Sean Avery to lighten up?

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According to the pro dancer, she doesn’t have to.

“The first two days I was very nervous and concerned because I did not know what to expect from him,” she admitted while chatting with reporters on the DWTS press line after last Monday’s premiere. “He was very serious. Now that we know each other—I love the guy. He’s funny, not in a ha-ha type of way, his humor is very dry, very unique, very clever, but he’s incredibly sweet. He’s a man. He wants to make sure that I’m comfortable with the dance. I want America to see the Sean that I see in the studio every day.”

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Karina offers up an example of how the ex New York Ranger is actually quite the gentleman.

“I live in Calabasas and my call time is 630 in the morning on Mondays,” she explains. “He asked, ‘Are you going to be driving from Calabasas?’ And I said, “Well I was planning to drive unless you’re going to send a plane.’ He said, ‘No, no, no—you need to rest. You need to get something closer.’ He organized a place for me to stay that’s closer (to the DWTS studio). I’ve never had a partner do that! I want people to see how sweet he is. Even in rehearsals, if something doesn’t work out he may be, ‘Ergghhh,’ but then he will smile and then it’s all great and it works out. I want his personality to come through on camera.”

Of course Karina says there are other benefits to having a dance partner who is the strong but silent type.

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“He talks about five percent of the time in rehearsal and then I talk the rest, which is good because he needs to listen more anyway. All men do, right?,” she jokes.

Karina and Sean take the ballroom again on Monday for the next round of Dancing with the Stars, airing at 8/7c on ABC.

Which DWTS couple is already your favorite to win this season? Tell us in the comments or tweet @OKMagazine.

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