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NHL suspends Avery indefinitely for comments, pending hearing

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TSN.ca Staff
12/3/2008 2:13:50 AM
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The NHL has suspended Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery indefinitely, pending a hearing with commissioner Gary Bettman.

Avery missed Tuesday's game against the Calgary Flames.

The Stars' super-pest is being suspended for disparaging remarks he made this morning in reference to Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf and Phaneuf's girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert, who previously had a relationship with Avery.

"I am really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada," Avery said on camera this morning in Calgary.  "I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about. Enjoy the game tonight."

Cuthbert has also been romantically linked to Canadiens defenceman Mike Komisarek, while Avery also dated model and actress Rachel Hunter, the girlfriend of Kings centre Jarrett Stoll.

TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie points to two reasons why the NHL felt compelled to hand out the punishment.

"I believe there are two reasons why Avery was suspended indefinitely pending his hearing with Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell," said McKenzie. "First is his specific choice of words, two words to be precise, 'sloppy seconds'. It's vulgar, the imagery is not good and in the mind of the National Hockey League, it's misogynistic, shows a lack of respect and objectifies women, in this case Elisha Cuthbert, his former girlfriend and current girlfriend of Flames' defenceman Dion Phaneuf. If he'd said ex-girlfriends, we wouldn't be talking about this.

"Secondly, there has been a long litany of things that he hasn't been punished for. He flipped the bird to a cameraman in New York, had verbal exchanges with Darcy Tucker as well as the allegations of what he may or may not have said about Jason Blake. There have been a number of things he hasn't gotten in trouble for and now that he has said this and crossed the line, the hammer has come down."

Avery's hearing will take place in accordance with the NHL Constitution, for conduct "detrimental to the League or game of hockey," the NHL announced. The NHLPA declined to comment on the suspension.

Stars owner Tom Hicks also released a statement on the team's website in which he said he supported the NHL's decision.

"Had the league not have suspended him, the Dallas Stars would have," Hicks stated. "This organization will not tolerate such behaviour, especially from a member of our hockey team. We hold our team to a higher standard and will continue to do so." 

Teammate Marty Turco wasn't impressed with Avery's latest antics either.

"Unfortunately, you don't know what the right words are when ignorant comments are made, such as that this morning," Turco said following Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Flames. "For us, the ability to focus maybe becomes more poignant right now, to bottle things up and play some solid hockey.. We're not gonna ignore what happened today, we're not going to pretend like these things don't happen or face up to it."

Centre Brad Richards echoed those sentiments.

"It's none of my business what he says and I'd rather not talk about Sean," said Richards. "He's got his own thing going on."

Forward Mike Modano felt that the comments were not what the Stars organization is about.

"It's way out of the ordinary and way out of what we expect out of each other, and you know.. It's gonna be dealt with and how it plays out, I'm not sure."

Sources tell TSN the Stars are expected to send Avery home Wednesday morning and NHL on TSN analyst John Tortorella agrees with the move and the suspension.

"The league stepped up here and I think they did the right thing. Enough is enough," said Tortorella. "He's embarrassed himself, he's embarrassed the organization, he's embarrassed the league and he's embarrassed his teammates, who have to look out for him. Send him home. He doesn't belong in the league."

And while NHL on TSN analyst and former player Matthew Barnaby does not agree with the suspension, he questions Avery's future with the Stars.

"As a former player, I don't agree with the suspension," said Barnaby. "Trust me, I said a lot of nasty things to a lot of different players but everything stayed on the ice. Bringing it out in the media is classless and stupid."

"I've played in that organization and it is a class organization. I think he's played his last game as a Dallas Star."

The Stars return to action on Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. You can watch the game live on TSN at 9:30pm et/6:30pm pt.

Sean Avery (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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