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Stars mum after Avery meeting

by Staff /
Dallas Stars' management met Wednesday and discussed their options concerning forward Sean Avery, who was suspended for six games by the NHL last week.

Stars owner Tom Hicks, co-General Managers Brett Hull and Les Jackson, and Stars President Jeff Cogen met at Hicks' downtown office to evaluate their options. The meeting ended before Dallas' home game against Phoenix, and no decisions were announced.

A Stars spokesman told the team won't make any announcements until Avery's six-game suspension ends. The sixth game of his suspension is on Saturday. He is eligible to return for the Stars' game against Phoenix on Dec. 16.

The Stars signed Avery to a four-year, $15.5 million contract this summer. He had 3 goals, 10 points and 77 penalty minutes in 23 games before being suspended indefinitely by the League for making a crude comment regarding an ex-girlfriend dating another player last Tuesday in Calgary. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Friday that Avery would serve a six-game suspension and would undergo anger-management counseling.

After the indefinite suspension was announced, coach Dave Tippett and team leaders Mike Modano and Marty Turco made it clear Avery would not be welcomed back into the dressing room. Dallas won three of its first four games after the suspension, but started the night last in the Western Conference standings after making the conference finals last spring.

The Stars have a few alternatives when Avery's NHL suspension ends.

They could add a club suspension on top of the league's penalty, or simply say that he will continue to undergo treatment for the issues he and the League said he needs to address.

The Stars could also put Avery on waivers or trade him. He also could be sent to the minors, but Dallas would have to pay his full salary. The team also would owe him all the money if he is cut. They could also wait until the offseason, when he could be bought out for $8 million, or two-thirds of what he is owed on the rest of his contract.

"We're doing everything we can to help Sean and look at our options, but the rules make this something that needs to be done inside the team," Hull, who was instrumental in bringing Avery to the Stars, told the Dallas Morning News. "Because he is suspended and because he's in the (Players' Association's) treatment program, we are not going to be commenting on what he is doing."

Defenseman Stephane Robidas said the Stars are trying to overcome the distractions that have surrounded Avery's situation.

"That's an issue that management is dealing with," Robidas said after Dallas' 5-3 loss to Phoenix. "We have to focus on hockey. Teams go through stretches with all kinds of distractions and you can't make excuses. It's not something we can control."

Avery, 28, is on his fourth team in seven seasons, having been traded by Detroit and Los Angeles, then not re-signed after last season by the New York Rangers. He's become an off-ice celebrity by dating actresses and working for Vogue magazine. On the ice, he's one of the NHL's biggest agitators, but has more speed and skill than most such players.

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