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NHL suspends Sean Avery indefinitely

by Staff
NEW YORK -- Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Tuesday, pending a hearing with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

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, made by Avery earlier in the day.

Avery is scheduled for a Thursday hearing at Noon ET with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in the league's New York offices. He will be accompanied by Stars' Associate General Manager Brett Hull. There is no timetable for when a decision might be reached after the hearing. Avery was not in uniform for the Stars' 3-1 victory in Calgary on Tuesday night.

Dallas owner Tom Hicks issued a statement on the Stars' Web site backing Bettman's decision.

"I completely support the League's decision to suspend Sean Avery," Hicks said. "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."

Stars coach Dave Tippett said before the game that Avery had gone too far.

"I think everyone in our room believes there is an integrity that has to go along with the game, respect for the game and respect for your opponents and Sean crossed that line," Tippett told reporters in Calgary prior to the game.

"I think the words, the words and disrespect for an opponent like that is something ... there's lots of trash talking that goes on on the ice. But then to announce something like that for everybody to hear, to me that crosses the line and the League -- and our ownership felt that, too."

Dallas concludes a two-game Alberta swing in Edmonton on Wednesday, but Avery will not be with the team.

"Sean crossed that line," Tippett said. "He won't continue with us on the trip. We've always professed that there is nobody that's ever bigger than our group or bigger than the team.

"Sean said something that just doesn't paint our organization in a good light, and appropriate steps are being taken."

When asked if Avery's relationship with the Stars can be repaired, Tippett responded: "Time will tell."

The NHL has fined Avery in the past, and he was once suspended by the Los Angeles Kings, the second of the four teams he's played for. Other players have been suspended for retaliating against Avery, including Chicago's Ben Eager, who got a three-game suspension for swinging his stick at Avery. However, this is the first time in his seven-year career that the NHL has taken him off the ice.

"Maybe they decided that this one crossed the line further than all the others," said Stars co-general manager Brett Hull, who played with Avery in Detroit several years ago and was a driving force behind signing him.

"More than anything, he's let his teammates down. That's the worst part of it," Hull said. "It's basically a fundamental -- you don't embarrass the team and you carry yourself with class and good character. I've told him before, there's more to the game than just lacing up the skates. There are things you have to be accountable for."

Whenever Avery is cleared to play again, he faces the task of trying to repair the damage he caused within the Stars' dressing room. It doesn't figure to be easy.

"It's going to take some time," teammate Mike Modano said. "It's a situation we'll have to address when that time comes, if it does."

Avery's comments following the morning skate in Calgary didn't seem to surprise his teammates.

"We expect that out of him like we have all year. The show continues," goalie Marty Turco said. "We all are competitive enough and focused to get out there and do your job. But when it continues over time, things certainly can be (distracting)."

Center Brad Richards said he'd "rather not talk about Sean."

"I don't care what he says," Richards added. "It's none of my business what he says. He's got his own thing going on."

Avery, 28, has 3 goals and 7 assists for 10 points and has 77 penalty minutes in 23 games with Dallas, including a goal in Sunday's 4-3 win over Edmonton. He is in his first season with the Stars after signing a four-year contract with the team this summer. But the Stars, who made the Western Conference finals last spring, went into Tuesday night's game with only 20 points, fewest in the conference and near the bottom of the NHL.

Avery is playing with his third team in as many seasons and the fourth of his career. He's also become a celebrity beyond the sports world through his interest in fashion, including a summer internship with Vogue magazine.

Material from wire services was used in this report

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