Hockey

Sean Avery in hospital with lacerated spleen

New York Rangers forward Sean Avery has been sent to hospital after his spleen was lacerated during a playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

New York Rangers forward Sean Avery has been sent to hospital after his spleen was lacerated during a playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The injury occurred in New York's 5-3 loss to the Penguins on Tuesday night. Avery, 28, was taken to St. Vincent's Medical Center and was admitted after a CT scan, a statement from the team said.

St. Vincent's spokesman Michael Fagan said Avery was in stable condition.

The Rangers trail the Penguins 3-0 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series, with Game 4 scheduled for Thursday night at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, CBC, CBCSports.ca).

Team spokesman John Rosasco said it's unclear when Avery was injured, but the forward complained during the game of pain that got worse.

Avery's spleen was not removed and he isn't expected to need surgery, although he will remain in hospital for a few days, Rosasco said.

The Toronto Sun reported that Avery's mother, Marlene, said Avery's spleen had not ruptured, but he had suffered internal bleeding.

The spleen is an organ about the size of a fist on the left side of the body, behind the stomach. It helps the body fight infection and filters the blood. A person can live without a spleen, although it could affect the ability to fight infections.

Avery will be out of the Rangers' lineup for the remainder of the season, but is expected to make a full recovery, according to the team's official website.

"We're definitely going to miss him," New York forward Ryan Callahan said after practice Wednesday. "He's a real big part of the team. He's come up with some real big points, scored big goals and obviously gets under the other team's skin.

"It's a tough loss to lose him, but we've got a lot of guys in here. Guys have to step up, and we have to concentrate on the next game."

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby also acknowledged the impact of Avery's loss.

"On the ice, things always happen," Crosby said. "It's emotional and intense. Guys are not the best of friends on the ice, but you never want to see someone's health in jeopardy. I think we all wish him the best.

"He's a guy who brings a lot of emotion to his team. I think we are a good example. We learned, from when we lost some guys, that other guys step up. When you lose guys you push harder to be better. So I don't think any of us will take that for granted."

Rangers deny cardiac arrest report

Earlier on Wednesday, the website of the New York Daily News reported that Avery was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest. The newspaper said Avery was unconscious and not breathing when he was taken to St. Vincent's.

That report was denied by the Rangers, who said Avery went in a car from Madison Square Garden to the hospital with team physician Dr. Andrew Feldman.

"He walked into the hospital," Rosasco said. "He was never in a life-threatening situation."

Avery collected an assist on the Rangers' second goal in Tuesday's loss. He has a total of four goals and three assists in eight playoff games this season.

The noted agitator has had a long history of getting under the skin of opposing players. His targets find themselves mouthing off and hurting their own team by drawing a penalty.

In the Rangers first-round series against the New Jersey Devils, Avery stood in front of Martin Brodeur and waved his stick from side to side in an attempt to screen the goaltender.

"I've played for 15 years in this league. I've been watching games for 33 years. I had never seen that in my life," Brodeur said.

That prompted the NHL to quickly make an on-the-fly rule interpretation in an effort to eliminate that type of play.

Brodeur was so incensed by Avery's antics that he refused to shake his hand after the Rangers' series-clinching victory in Game 5.

Pittsburgh's Gary Roberts, who had his own run-in with Avery during a game in November, called him "an idiot" after his first-round antics with Brodeur. But he took a softer tone when told of the injury.

"There's hockey and then there is life and your health. You don't wish that on anybody," Roberts said. "I don't know Sean personally away from the rink. Obviously, we've had our comments throughout the media, but truthfully, when it comes to this kind of stuff, you just hope that he makes a full recovery."

With files from the Associated Press

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