Avery gets deep-sixed

Sean Avery has been suspended six games for making inappropriate comments. (Sun Photo/Brendon...

Sean Avery has been suspended six games for making inappropriate comments. (Sun Photo/Brendon Dlouhy)

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:43 PM ET

ST. LOUIS -- While NHL commissioner Gary Bettman saw fit to suspend Sean Avery six games yesterday for his inappropriate comments, Dion Phaneuf figured it would be appropriate to stop talking about it.

"Dion has no further comment," a team representative said before the Calgary Flames hit the ice against the Blues in St. Louis last night.

Apparently, Phaneuf is taking Avery's published apology as seriously as Avery's own Dallas Stars.

"He's always on the edge, certainly, on the ice, which no one really has an issue with," veteran Dallas forward Mike Modano said. "But when it becomes public and it becomes off-ice situations, that's when you have a problem with it."

Avery already has served two of the six games and will be eligible to return Dec. 16 against Phoenix. He'll forfeit nearly $125,000 US in salary.

"He looked me in the eye and said: 'I need help,"' said Stars general manager Brett Hull. "It was brought up by him."

This is Avery's first league suspension in seven seasons. Stars owner Tom Hicks said he would have banished Avery if the NHL hadn't.

"You have to move on and start a new chapter, and that's kind of what we're planning on doing," Modano said. "We've kind of washed our hands of the situation."

Seeking out reporters in Calgary Tuesday afternoon, Avery had a premeditated comment that was so off-side, Bettman suspended him indefinitely pending a hearing.

An on-ice agitator who's second to none when it comes to getting under people's skin, it's Avery's first suspension.

"Mr. Avery has expressed remorse for his recent comments and has sought a professional anger management evaluation," Bettman said in a statement yesterday. "I will require that he follow through with that process as a condition of his returning to the ice and that he complies with any and all recommendations.

Hull had gone out on a limb for Avery by bringing him on board.

"We have to fix him," Hull said. "There were a lot of words thrown out -- anger management, depression. He's going to use this time to figure things out."

Hull played with Avery in Detroit and was influential in bringing him to Dallas. The GM insisted that treatment is merely a beginning.

"You don't go to a retreat for a weekend and it's fixed," Hull said. "There will be apologies made, probably more privately.

Hull added his teammates will have a chance to offer their opinion. So far, it has been mostly negative.

"I could forgive somebody for making a mistake or making a few mistakes, but it goes a lot deeper than that," Dallas goalie Marty Turco said. "I'm pretty sure Brett knows how we feel."

Whether it's because their teammate was one of those personally attacked by Avery, or just a general disgust for what came out of his mouth, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Flame not in favour of the suspension.

"I don't disagree with the NHL's decision to suspend him by any means. I just think he's got to figure some things out," said Michael Cammalleri, who considered himself a friend of Avery's when they were both playing for the Los Angeles Kings.

"He's obviously disappointed me a lot this year with comments he made about (Jarome Iginla being 'boring') and the comments he made the other day.

"That's definitely a breach of the friendship we had."

Robyn Regehr, the Flames' NHLPA representative, just shrugs when asked if the punishment fits the crime. "It's Gary's decision and he's going to have to live with it," he said.

"The bottom line is that type of thing shouldn't happen in our game," said Avery's former head coach Andy Murray, who is now behind the bench for the Blues. "Sean made a big mistake. I don't even look at the punishment, I just think something like that should never happen."


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