Offside remark a new low

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

Apparently, Sean Avery finally ran out of ways to cross the line.

So he invented a new one.

And in one stunningly inappropriate sentence yesterday, a career built on indiscretion may finally face the sort of justice he's eluded for so long.

Kind of like Al Capone going to jail for tax evasion.

Best part is that after years of inflicting himself on others, he's finally feeling his own wrath.

By now, you've heard or seen the clip in which the Dallas Stars wart announces to a wall of reporters he wants to make a statement, waits for every camera and tape recorder to start rolling and then unloads a jaw-dropper that had everyone within earshot asking, "Did he really just say that?"

"I'm really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada," said a smirking Avery after yesterday's morning skate.

"I just wanted 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."

Thanks to him, pure hockey fans did enjoy the evening, as the commissioner stepped in hours later to suspend Avery indefinitely for "inappropriate comments not pertaining to the game," pending a hearing.

Granted, as word of his already-infamous one-liner ripped through the city, potential viewership for the Flames/Stars skyrocketed, appropriately enough, to WWE-sized audiences, as husbands and wives pictured Dion Phaneuf offering a two-fisted retort.

You see, for those who haven't been following, Avery's calculated attack was a dig at the Flames defenceman and his girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert. Her crime, apparently, was once dating the misogynistic Avery.

What separates his crude public attack from shower-talk or heat-of-the-battle trash dispensing is this was a premeditated verbal assault. Quite frankly, it ranks as one of the most offside comments in NHL lore.

Maybe all of sports.

Thankfully, the NHL agreed, as his completely unprovoked attack could easily have erupted into a bloodbath last night. Yes, it would have been one of the sweetest poundings since Mike Tyson started taking regular beatdowns.

Better yet, it would've been a war no Stars teammate would've wanted any part of, as Avery's dwindling list of pals in the game likely disappeared to zero yesterday.

Stars owner Tom Hicks immediately backed the suspension, saying his club would've done the same had the league not responded.

And while the unprecedented nature of his frat-boy, sabre-rattling has many wondering how many games he'll be suspended, the bigger question revolves around what happens after the ban.

Clearly, the Stars players, whose ongoing disgust was evident as they reacted to the comment, won't stand for a return of the league's most grossly-paid pest. His coach, Dave Tippett, was particularly red-faced, as minutes earlier he had chastised the media for "blowing things way out of proportion" regarding Avery.

"I think he's been quiet around us," said Tippett, earlier. "The distraction has been much overblown."

Not this time.

Even Stars GM Brett Hull will soon have to realize this latest firestorm will end Avery's stay in Dallas, where a four-year, US$15.5-million deal will almost certainly have to be bought out. Good luck finding a trading partner.

In a sports and entertainment world that has run out of ways to shock fans, few can deny what Avery said yesterday was hard to believe.

Even for Avery.

Will it cost him his career? Sadly, no.

Will it cost him a few dates? Absolutely.


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