Avery out six games
He's suspended for crass remarks
Sean Avery was suspended for six games by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday after the league's most notorious agitator made a crude comment regarding his ex-girlfriends dating other hockey players.
Avery already has served two games, making him eligible to return Dec. 16 against Phoenix, if Dallas Stars management and teammates accept him.
"We needed to be clear that this was the type of conduct that we did not view was acceptable and not representative of what our players do," Bettman said during a conference call from New York.
Avery, who has twice led the NHL in penalty minutes and is second this season, also agreed to be evaluated for anger management. The league cited his "pattern of unacceptable and antisocial behavior."
"He looked me in the eye and said, 'I need help,' " Stars GM Brett Hull said from Dallas.
This is Avery's first suspension in his seven seasons. Stars owner Tom Hicks said he would have suspended Avery if the league hadn't.
"You have to move on and start a new chapter, and that's kind of what we're planning on doing and working toward," Stars forward Mike Modano said. "After today, we're not going to discuss it or talk about it or him."
Bettman deemed Avery's behavior "detrimental to the league or game of hockey" and said in a statement the 28-year-old Avery has "expressed remorse for his recent comments." Bettman said completion of the anger management evaluation is a condition for Avery's return.
The league said earlier that Avery's actions have often been "at odds with the manner in which his more than 700 fellow players conduct themselves."
Bettman said Avery had been close to drawing a suspension many times, but the league couldn't verify his actions. Bettman warned Avery during the playoffs last spring, and the player was also warned by league disciplinarian Colin Campbell.
"At the end of the day, I felt we had to punish," Bettman said.
Avery had been under an indefinite suspension from Bettman since Tuesday, when the forward sought reporters to make his remark. He spent three hours Thursday at a hearing at league headquarters in Manhattan.
Hull played with Avery several years ago in Detroit and was influential in bringing him to Dallas. The GM insisted that treatment is merely a beginning.
"Once the suspension is over and once we find out the process he's trying to go through, as an organization, we're going to decide as a group what direction we're going to go. The players will have a chance to give their input," said Hull.
So far, it has been mostly negative.
"I could forgive somebody for making a mistake or making a few mistakes, but it goes a lot deeper than that," goalie Marty Turco said.
Avery sat out Dallas's 3-1 win over the Flames Tuesday and again Wednesday when the Stars lost at Edmonton, 5-2. He was denied a chance by teammates to apologize to them, and his message of contrition Wednesday was distributed by his publicist.
Stars 2, Avalanche 1 - Modano scored in the fourth round of a shootout, and Turco stopped Ryan Smyth's shot to give host Dallas the victory.
Canucks 2, Wild 1 - Vancouver ended a four-game losing streak as former Boston College goalie Cory Schneider picked up his first career victory in a fight-filled game at Minnesota.
Flames 4, Blues 3 - Michael Cammalleri scored in overtime as Calgary overcame a pair of two-goal deficits at St. Louis. Dion Phaneuf had four assists.
Oilers 5, Kings 4 - Dustin Penner tied it with 11:37 left in the third period, and Marc Pouliot and Ales Hemsky scored on backhanders in a shootout for visiting Edmonton.