NHL suspends Avery indefinitely over personal remark

Sean Avery of the Dallas Stars has been suspended indefinitely by the NHL for conduct "detrimental to the league or game of hockey."

The NHL has suspended Sean Avery indefinitely for conduct "detrimental to the league or game of hockey."

The league says the Dallas Stars winger, who is known as a pest for being an agitator on the ice, made inappropriate comments not pertaining to hockey on Tuesday.

In Calgary for a game, Avery made a public comment that seemed to be directed at Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, who is now dating a Canadian actress who once dated Avery.

"I'm really happy to be back in Calgary. I love Canada," Avery said in front of cameras. "I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about, but enjoy the game tonight."

Phaneuf is dating Elisha Cuthbert, who is best known for her role on the television series 24. She dated Avery until the summer of 2007.

Avery also once dated model and actress Rachel Hunter, the current girlfriend of Los Angeles Kings centre Jarrett Stoll.

The ban is indefinite pending a hearing with commissioner Gary Bettman, where Avery will appear Thursday, at 10:30 a.m. ET for the meeting alongside Stars co-general manager Brett Hull.

Stars support ban

Stars management issued a statement saying the club supported the NHL's decision and would have suspended Avery if the league had not.

"Had the league not … suspended him, the Dallas Stars would have," said Stars owner Tom Hicks. "This organization will not tolerate such behaviour, especially from a member of our hockey team. We hold our team to a higher standard and will continue to do so."

"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," Stars head coach Dave Tippett told reporters 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 that 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.

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

The Stars are Avery's third team in as many seasons and fourth overall. While playing in Detroit, Los Angeles and New York, he showed an ability to score and get under the skin of opponents but also frequently found himself in hot water.

The NHL put in a so-called "Avery Rule" after he set up in front of New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur and blocked the goalie's view by waving his hand and stick during last year's playoffs. He's also previously been fined for diving and criticizing NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell.

In a poll last year, 66 per cent of NHL players said Avery was the most hated player in the league.

With files from the Associated Press