Coach Tippett calls out Avery

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

Dave Tippett made it pretty clear: he doesn't want Sean Avery in his dressing room when, or if, the controversial forward's indefinite NHL suspension comes to an end.

Yesterday, while Avery and Stars co-general manager Brett Hull were on their way to a disciplinary hearing with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in New York, Tippett made his feelings known.

"From my own standpoint, there's a great deal of frustration and embarrassment," said Tippett yesterday.

"Ten minutes before Sean came out with those comments, I defended him and that's very disappointing to me. There's been people from management to coaches, to teammates that put a lot of time and effort to try and get him engaged in our group. Obviously the point wasn't getting across. Which brings us to where we are right now."

The Stars coach was referring to Avery's well-documented remarks to the media before playing the Flames in Calgary Tuesday. Avery took a not-so-subtle shot at Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, who is dating Avery's former girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert.

He was also alluding to former Oilers centre Jarret Stoll who is also dating a former girlfriend of Avery's - actress Rachel Hunter.

The NHL promptly suspended Avery indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the league and the game of hockey.

Avery issued an apology yesterday.

"I would like to sincerely apologize for my off-colour remarks to the press yesterday from Calgary," he said yesterday in a statement.

"I should not have made those comments and I recognize that they were inappropriate. It was a bad attempt to build excitement for the game, but I am now acutely aware of how hurtful my actions were. I caused unnecessary embarrassment to my peers as well as people I have been close with in the past."

His contrition may not be enough to get him back into the Stars dressing room.

"As far as him coming back and rejoining the team, we'll have to wait and see what Mr. Gary Bettman says," said Tippett.

"I try to build a team where players play for each other and care for each other and play with continuity. I find it hard to believe that Sean can come back in that dressing room and find that continuity again."

The Stars were aware of what they were getting in Avery when they signed the North York, Ont., native to a four-year, $15.5-million free agent deal this off-season.

Hull was Avery's teammate with the Detroit Red Wings and stated the Stars needed the emotion he brought. The headaches, though, seem to be something they can do without.

"On every team there's issues here and there. There's been issues with him and with other players as well, but it's been nothing that's derogatory to the group. But this is taking it too far," Tippet said. "This is a situation where he's painted our organization with a brush nobody wants to be painted with."

Tippet was asked if Avery would be accepted back after serving his suspension.

"I think it would be hard for our team; and I know from talking to our players," he said. "My job is to build a team, the best team possible. I don't know if we can build the best team possible with Sean coming back.

"We'll have to see what ownership wants to do. That's going to be management and ownership's call. I think they know my opinion on it, very clearly."

Avery's trip to Calgary was highly anticipated after he said Jarome Iginla doesn't bring enough to the game.

He was prepped before speaking to the media.

"It's disappointing because with all the stuff that was going on with Sean in the morning, I approached Sean and asked him if he was going to talk to the media and he said 'no.' " Tippet said.

"He talked to our (public relations) people and he said 'No.'

"And to have a calculated response like that - a calculated statement for what I thought was personal gain (was disappointing)."


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