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Avery decision coming Friday

by Staff /
NEW YORK -- Dallas forward Sean Avery had his say Wednesday about the suspension he incurred Tuesday afternoon and now awaits the decision of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. The commissioner will render his decision Friday morning.

Avery descended upon the NHL main offices here to give his side of the events regarding the remarks he made Tuesday in Calgary about an ex-girlfriend's new relationship with an NHL player that earned him an indefinite suspension.

The hearing, a process afforded all suspended players, took place in the NHL's executive offices, beginning at approximately noon and running until 1:30 p.m.

"We had a hearing with Sean Avery this morning which was well chronicled by the media." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said on his XM Radio show, NHL Hour with Gary Bettman. "Off the bat, what I need to say is I haven't made a decision yet. I want to take the opportunity to think about what transpired at the meeting, everything I was told and needs to be considered. I want to reflect on it, which means either sometime later this afternoon or tomorrow morning [it will be Friday] we will render a decision and I will make it public."

Bettman refused to further discuss the issue on his show.

"I ultimately have the responsibility of making a decision here and I take all of the disciplinary decisions and all the decisions I make seriously," he said. "It wouldn't be appropriate for me to do it any other way than the way I'm doing it."

At the meeting, Avery met with Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and Senior Executive Vice President Colin Campbell. Avery's agent Pat Morris, NHLPA Director of Player Affairs Glenn Healy, NHLPA General Counsel Ian Penny and Stars GM Brett Hull also were in attendance.

Avery, who arrived more than an hour early for his hearing, dressed in a checkered gray suit without a tie and sporting a huge pair of dark sunglasses, left shortly after the meeting without comment. He was escorted past a scrum of media and into a waiting livery cab.

After the meeting, Hull spoke to the media outside the building.

"There's not really much to say," Hull said. "It was your typical hearing and the PA had (its) say and the NHL (its) say and we're waiting for Gary to digest everything that he heard and make a decision today or tomorrow morning."

Healy, the NHLPA representative, said he was pleased with the tone of Thursday's meeting.

"All sides presented to Gary, and Gary makes the decision," Healy said. "Everyone had strong opinions and everyone had a chance and it was a fair process and now it's up to Gary. It's up to Gary to decide what's appropriate."

Avery was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Tuesday, following disparaging remarks he made in part in reference to Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who is currently dating Avery's ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert.

The League said the suspension was issued in accordance with the provisions of By-Law 17 and Article 6 of the NHL Constitution for conduct "detrimental to the League or game of hockey." The suspension was imposed following inappropriate public comments about the personal lives of opposing players, and not pertaining to the game.

Avery issued an apology Wednesday.

"I should not have made those comments and I recognize that they were inappropriate," he said in a statement. "It was a bad attempt to build excitement for the game, but I am now acutely aware of how hurtful my actions were. I caused unnecessary embarrassment to my peers as well as people I have been close with in the past."

Hull said Thursday afternoon that Avery also expressed remorse in his face-to-face meeting with Bettman.

"I certainly have no quotes for you, but he was remorseful in what he did and that's about all you can do," Hull said.

Healy also made a point of bringing up Avery's contrition.

"Sean got a chance to explain some different things, I think he was excellent," Healy said. "He was apologetic and from a player's standpoint, he laid out his side of things pretty well. But it's pretty clear he's sorry for the incident and at the end of the day, he's a good player. He's one of Dallas' top-two forwards and he's a good kid. There's a lot of good things and he probably wishes that the incident never happened."

Avery has already missed two games, a 3-1 win in Calgary and Wednesday's 5-2 loss in Edmonton. The earliest he could return is Friday night against Colorado at home, but that's pending Bettman's decision.


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