DALLAS (AP) -The NHL suspended Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery indefinitely Tuesday for making a crude reference to former girlfriends while talking with reporters.
Avery's inflammatory comments came following a morning skate in Calgary, Alberta, where the Stars were to play the Flames on Tuesday night. He approached a group of reporters, asked if a camera was present, then said he wanted 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)."
He used a crass term to refer to ex-girlfriends now dating other people.
Avery's ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert, is dating Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf and had been romantically linked to Mike Komisarek of the Montreal Canadiens. Avery also dated model and actress Rachel Hunter, the girlfriend of Los Angeles Kings center Jarrett Stoll.
Hours after Avery spoke, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the punishment, saying Avery made "inappropriate public comments, not pertaining to the game."
Avery will meet with Bettman before his punishment is settled. That get-together is likely to happen soon.
"I completely support the league's decision to suspend Sean Avery," Stars owner Tom Hicks said in a statement. "Had the league not have suspended him, the Dallas Stars would have. This organization will not tolerate such behavior, especially from a member of our hockey team. We hold our team to a higher standard and will continue to do so."
Avery is a noted "pest," the kind of player who delights in getting under the skin of opponents, and whom fans love to hate. During last season's playoffs, Avery - then with the New York Rangers - stood in front of New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur and blocked his view by waving his hand and stick in the goalie's face. The next day, the league put in the so-called "Avery Rule" to prohibit such shenanigans.
Avery got a measure of revenge by scoring three goals in the series victory. But he lacerated his spleen in the following round against Pittsburgh, requiring a stay in intensive care and ending his stint with the Rangers.
Despite his tough-guy image on the ice, the 28-year-old Avery has cultivated another image in his private life: Fashionista. He's pursued his interest in the fashion world by interning with Vogue magazine. He's also broken into pop culture through appearances on MTV and in tabloid gossip columns; he also grabbed a spot on People's "Sexiest Scars" list for a gash on his lip.
Dallas signed Avery to a $15.5 million, four-year deal in July, hoping his grittiness would help last season's Western Conference finalists. Instead, the injury-riddled Stars went into Tuesday night's game with only 20 points, fewest in the Western Conference and near the bottom of the NHL.
This is Avery's third team in as many seasons, and fourth of his career. His contract includes a limited no-trade clause.