NHLPA calls Avery suspension 'unprecedented'
Player has phoned Cuthbert to apologize: Healy
The National Hockey League Players' Association indicated Friday that it will monitor any further attempt to punish Sean Avery after his suspension for inappropriate comments he made earlier in the week.
Avery was suspended for six games earlier in the day by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
The pair met Thursday in New York, along with the player's agent, Pat Morris, Stars co-general manager Brett Hull and Glenn Healy, the NHLPA's player affairs director.
"While the NHLPA does not condone Sean's comments, which were clearly inappropriate, the discipline imposed by the commissioner is unprecedented both in its severity, as well as the process by which it was handed down," the players' association statement read.
"We have also seen signals from the Dallas Stars that Sean's contractual rights might be challenged. We are monitoring the situation as it develops and we will evaluate all legal options as the circumstances warrant. In the meantime, our first priority is supporting Sean's efforts to learn from his mistake and move forward in a positive manner."
Avery, 28, summoned reporters in Calgary on Tuesday and said he couldn't understand why some NHL players dated his former girlfriends, using a vulgar term to describe the women.
In addition to the games, Avery will undergo professional anger management treatment.
Little support seen
With the exception of Hull, Stars players and ownership have not been shown much public support of Avery following the incident.
"Dallas has taken him off the website as a roster player and are indicating to a lot of different people that he's no longer welcome back there," Healy said on Hockey Night in Canada Radio on Friday.
"We're not quite sure what that means," Healy added. "Does that mean ever? Does that mean he's not welcome back in this league? I'm not quite sure what it means."
Healy said Avery had personally called ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert to apologize. Cuthbert is now dating Calgary defenceman Dion Phaneuf.
Dallas owner Tom Hicks quickly issued a statement on Tuesday saying the organization wouldn't tolerate the player's behaviour. Coach Dave Tippett, meanwhile, questioned whether the feisty forward could be ever welcomed back to the team's locker room.
In addition, Avery issued an apology the day after the incident, but it came from his own publicist and not the communications department of the Stars.
The club signed Avery in the summer to a four-year contract worth nearly $16 million US.
He has three goals and seven assists through 23 games.
"Statistically, people can't deny that he can help a hockey club," said Healy. "That being said, the Dallas Stars — and there has been a lot of finger-pointing at Sean — have not found this to be a recipe for success."