Sean Avery's words embarrassed his teammates Tuesday. But his suspension thrilled them. And many Stars are hoping that "indefinitely" means "forever."
On camera last night, you could see the frustration and anger in the Dallas players' eyes, but they chose their words carefully. Today, I spoke to three Stars players, who were blunt in their assessment of Avery. They agreed to be quoted as long as their names were not used.
"We hope it's the last time we ever see him," says one veteran.
"Our locker room is the happiest it has been all year right now," says another player.
Avery's weak attempt at stand-up comedy/trash-talk in Calgary was the last straw for many teammates.
He told them in the dressing room he was going to do something outrageous, saying, "Watch this boys," a couple of minutes before he stepped before the microphones.
They weren't shocked. Nothing Avery does shocks anymore. They were just angry.
"An apology (to the team) won't work," says a third player. "There isn't much he can say to change the way we feel right now. We have a lot of pride in this organization. He isn't welcome here anymore."
Avery has been an outcast in the dressing room from the start of the season. He wears headphones almost all the time, and rarely speaks to anyone, often working on his computer until minutes before practice. That might be tolerated if he (and the team) were performing well on the ice. But he hasn't been, with just three goals so far.
"He's been undermining everything we do," says the veteran. "He doesn't pay attention; he's not smart enough to play our system. He can't do some drills properly. He says it's because he's 'independent.'
Really, he's just not smart enough."
Dallas forward Brad Richards did go on record, but chose not to add fuel to the fire. Still, his feelings are clear.
"We don't want to talk about him anymore. Hopefully, it will be handled and that will be the end of it."
Sources say Dallas owner Tom Hicks is already exploring every possible way to get rid of Avery. Trading him might be impossible right now, because of his extensive baggage, and a four-year contract at almost four million dollars per season. The Stars could elect to send him down, and since Dallas does not have an AHL affiliate, they could try to assign him to.... anywhere.
One of the Stars suggested Finland or Russia would be good choices.