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Hicks, Hull set to meet to discuss Avery situation

by Brian Compton /
By all accounts, Sean Avery doesn't seem to have many supporters within the Dallas Stars' organization.
Team owner Tom Hicks and co-General Manager Brett Hull are set to meet on Wednesday afternoon -- a meeting that could ultimately determine the troubled forward's fate in Dallas. Hull, who played with Avery in Detroit, was the driving force behind the four-year, $15.5 million deal that Avery signed in July.
Avery is currently serving a six-game suspension for making a crude comment regarding an ex-girlfriend dating another hockey player last Tuesday in Calgary. Hicks issued a statement immediately following the announcement of the suspension in full support of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Avery agreed to get evaluated for anger management during his meeting with Bettman on Thursday in New York.
"We're going to look at all the alternatives," Hicks said on Monday. "We're going to have some recommendations from Brett, (co-GM) Les (Jackson) and (president) Jeff Cogen will participate as well."
Speculation out of Dallas has been rampant that Avery's teammates may not welcome No. 16 back with open arms. Hicks didn't exactly deny it before leaving for the NHL's Board of Governors meeting.
"I'm not prepared to say that (he's played his last game in Dallas) yet because I want to give our guys the respect they deserve to make the recommendations," Hicks said. "But certainly when (coach) Dave Tippett comes out and stakes his claim, it's pretty hard to overcome that."

Hicks was referring to Tippett's strong comments about Avery prior to last Wednesday's game in Edmonton. Dallas has won two of three games since the suspension was handed down.

"I'm trying to build a team where the players care about each other, that has continuity," Tippett said before that 5-2 loss to the Oilers. "I find it hard to believe that Sean could come back in the room and we would have that continuity.

"My job is to build the best team possible. I don't know if we can build the best team possible with Sean in the room."

One possible scenario the Stars may have to rule out is a reassignment to the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League. To unload Avery's $3.875 salary this season, Dallas could place Avery on waivers and if he clears, send him to the AHL. The Stars have a partial affiliation with Manitoba and currently have five Dallas players on its AHL roster. But the Moose have already gone on record that Avery will not be welcomed in their locker room.

''We wouldn't take him under any circumstance,'' Moose owner Mark Chipman told TSN last Thursday.
Chipman also told the network that the Stars approached Moose GM Craig Heisinger recently -- several days before Avery's latest offensive remarks on Tuesday -- to ask if Manitoba would make room for Avery if he cleared NHL waivers. Following a brief internal discussion, the Moose declined and Dallas decided not to waive him.

The Stars also have players assigned to Hamilton, Grand Rapids, Peoria, Iowa and Houston in the AHL.

"I think we'll want to look at everything from what's right for Sean -- not as a hockey player," Hicks said. "He's a troubled young man. I think that's going to be our first priority is what can we do to help him away from hockey? We've got a team of guys doing all that and I'll deal with that Wednesday, too."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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