New York Rangers forward Sean Avery was fined the maximum $2,500 US by the NHL on Tuesday, for his role in a pre-game scuffle involving Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Jason Blake and Darcy Tucker.
Tucker was fined $1,000 US, while the Rangers and Maple Leafs were fined $25,000 US and $10,000 US, respectively.
"The unprofessional conduct of Avery in initiating this altercation — less than a week after being involved in an incident in the pre-game warm-up against New Jersey — is the basis for this discipline," NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in a statement.
"Tucker also bears some responsibility for his inappropriate response. [And] both organizations must also be held accountable for the players' actions."
Campbell levied the fines after meeting with Avery, who denied allegations that he belittled Blake about being diagnosed with a rare but treatable form of cancer (chronic myelogenous leukemia).
"I am extremely upset and hurt that false and damaging comments were attributed to me regarding Jason Blake," Avery said in a statement. "I made no such comments.
"I have lost two grandfathers to cancer and have been a consistent contributor to multiple cancer related charities —first and foremost, Hockey Fights Cancer. I am unable to comment further as the matter is now being addressed by legal counsel."
Avery is contemplating legal action against The Fan 590, a Toronto sports radio station that reported a Rangers teammate said Avery made a remark about Blake's battle with cancer during the pre-game warm-up prior to last Saturday's 3-2 shootout victory over the Maple Leafs.
Avery pushed Blake, so Tucker slashed him with his stick, and players from both teams swiftly surrounded the two agitators as they took a swipe at each other and exchanged pleasantries.
"He has no sense of class," Tucker told reporters following Monday's skate.
"And you know, what goes around comes around in this game, eventually."
Avery ended up fighting Tucker 13:12 into the first period, setting up Brendan Shanahan's opening goal at 1:43 of the second, and whacking in a rebound for New York's second goal 42 seconds later.
"It goes beyond just getting under guys' skin," Maple Leafs enforcer Wade Belak said. "I think [Avery] takes it to a personal level and that is what guys hate about him.
"I think it's sort of known you don't really start digging into people's personal lives. You know, call us bad hockey players or whatever, but when you start bringing other people into it, that's definitely crossing the line."
Avery is well known for his on-ice antics, including an alleged racial slur directed at Georges Laraque, who is black, making derogatory comments about French-Canadian defenceman Denis Gauthier, and becoming the first player in NHL history to be fined for diving during a game on Nov. 1, 2005.