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Avery meets with Bettman, awaits suspension length

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NEW YORK (AP) -Sean Avery suddenly stopped talking and waited to hear if commissioner Gary Bettman's words would sting as much as those uttered by the NHL's most notorious pest.

Avery spent three hours at a disciplinary hearing inside league headquarters in midtown Manhattan on Thursday, trying to avoid a lengthy suspension that could cut his days with the Dallas Stars short.

Avery was banished indefinitely after he sought out reporters to voice a crude expression describing former girlfriends dating other hockey players. Bettman barred him from the ice Tuesday and is expected to specify Friday how long the sentence will be.

"I haven't made a decision yet," Bettman said Thursday during his weekly radio show broadcast on NHL.com. "I want to take the opportunity to spend a little time thinking about what transpired at the hearing and everything that I was told and that needs to be considered.

"I want to reflect on it."

Not long after Avery's offensive soliloquy, Bettman suspended him for making "inappropriate public comments, not pertaining to the game." The punishment came down only hours after Avery used the crude language Tuesday in Calgary, Alberta.

Avery sat out Dallas' 3-1 win over the Flames on Tuesday and again Wednesday when the Stars lost at Edmonton 5-2. When, or if, Avery will play for Dallas again remains to be seen.

His teammates haven't defended him since he got into trouble and don't seem too interested in welcoming him back.

"I don't know," Stars general manager Brett Hull said. "That is something that is going to have to be addressed within our organization."

Reporters were waiting to speak with Avery on Tuesday about disparaging remarks he'd made last month about Flames star Jarome Iginla when Avery walked over to the group and asked if there was a camera present. When told there was, he said, "I'm just going to say one thing."

"I'm really happy to be back in Calgary; I love Canada," he said. "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 (former girlfriends). I don't know what that's about, but enjoy the game tonight." He then walked out.

Avery's ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert of the television show "24" and the movie "Old School," is dating Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf; she also had been romantically linked to Mike Komisarek of the Montreal Canadiens.

Avery also dated Rachel Hunter, the former Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model and actress who is the girlfriend of Los Angeles Kings center Jarrett Stoll.

Dressed in a gray suit and wearing large designer sunglasses on Thursday, Avery didn't say a word as he made his way from a car to the league office and back.

He was joined at the hearing by agent Pat Morris, Stars general manager Brett Hull and players' association player affairs director Glenn Healy.

NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell was also in attendance, but Bettman is handling Avery's punishment.

"He was remorseful in what he did. It's about all you can do," Hull said. "I hope that we can put this all behind us and we can make sure that the league and the Stars and the NHLPA do everything to make sure that I don't have to stand here or anyone else has to stand here and talk about stupid things like this anymore."

Although this is Avery's first suspension in his seven-season NHL career, he often has courted controversy with his comments or unorthodox behavior on the ice. Stars owner Tom Hicks was quick to support Bettman's decision to suspend Avery.

"He made all his points really clear," Healy said of Avery. "He is a good kid that made a mistake. It was the wrong forum, and he used the wrong words."

Avery left the New York Rangers this summer after 1 1/2 seasons and signed a four-year, $15.5 million deal with the Stars. Dallas might seek to cut ties with him soon.

"He is a good player and it shows in the salary he commanded," Healy said. "I have no doubt that if the Dallas Stars have no interest in Sean's services, a team will. He showed in this city what he can mean to a hockey club.

"That's a Stars issue. I have no idea what they intend on doing. Brett was in the meeting and he spoke highly of Sean. If they have other motives, then they haven't expressed them to us."

Hull, a teammate of Avery's several years ago with the Detroit Red Wings, doesn't regret bringing the agitating forward to Dallas.

"No," he said. "The day I stop taking risks to make our organization the best I think it can be I'll have to step away. You have to take risks sometimes to become a championship team and that's what we're trying to do."

Avery was denied a chance by teammates to apologize to them, and his message of contrition on Wednesday was distributed by his California-based publicist and not by the Stars.

"I would like to sincerely apologize for my off-color remarks to the press," Avery said. "I should not have made those comments, and I recognize that they were inappropriate.

"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.

"I apologize for offending the great fans of the NHL, the commissioner, my teammates, my coaching staff and the Dallas Stars management and ownership. As many of you know, I like to mix it up on and off the ice from time to time, but understand that this time I took it too far."

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AP Sports Writer Jaime Aron in Dallas contributed to this report.

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