Avery's fate up to Stars

TERRY KOSHAN AND SUN WIRES

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

DALLAS -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made his decision on Sean Avery.

Now it's up to the Dallas Stars' management to decide how it will proceed with the notorious agitator after the league suspended Avery for six games on Friday for making a crude comment regarding his ex-girlfriends dating other hockey players.

"Once the suspension is over and once we find out the process he's trying to go through, we're going to decide as a group what direction we're going to go," Stars co-general manager Brett Hull said. "The players will have a chance to give their input."

Avery already has served three games of the suspension and will miss an additional three, making him eligible to return Dec. 16 against Phoenix.

The league cited his "pattern of unacceptable and anti-social behavior" when announcing the punishment. Avery, who has twice led the NHL in penalty minutes and is among the leaders this season, also agreed to be evaluated for anger management.

The Stars now have to decide whether Avery can help turn around the slumping team, or if the relationship is beyond repair after this latest incident.

This week, coach Dave Tippett questioned whether Avery would be welcomed back in the locker room. Avery was also denied a chance by teammates to apologize to them, and his message of contrition Wednesday was distributed by his publicist.

"I don't know, probably not a good one," said Stars centre Mike Modano when asked about Avery's long term future with the team. "I just see the statements that Dave (Tippett) has made and (Stars owner) Tom (Hicks). ... Tom has always set a high standard and we've tried to live by it as players and as an organization, top to bottom."

Bettman deemed Avery's behavior "detrimental to the league or game of hockey" and said in a statement the 28-year-old player has "expressed remorse for his recent comments." Bettman said completion of the anger management evaluation is a condition for Avery's return.

"I wanted it to be clear to the fans that this isn't something that we tolerate -- particularly fans with children who might have to explain to them what this statement was," Bettman said during a conference call.

The league said earlier that Avery's actions have often been "at odds with the manner in which his more than 700 fellow players conduct themselves."

SABRES CALL UP SNIPER

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The slumping Buffalo Sabres called up rookie Nathan Gerbe from their AHL affiliate yesterday, hoping to get a spark from the small high-scoring center for their night game at Tampa Bay.

The team's 2005 fifth-round draft pick Gerbe ranks second on Portland with 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 21 games this season. Listed at 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, he was signed by Buffalo last summer after a solid three-year career at Boston College. He led the nation with 68 points (35 goals, 33 assists) last season, while helping the Eagles win the NCAA championship.

The Sabres, coming off a 2-1 loss at Florida on Thursday, have lost three straight and are 3-9-1 in their past 13 games.

To make room for Gerbe, the Sabres returned Mark Mancari to Portland. The rookie right wing had a goal and assist in seven games with Buffalo.

SIFERS SENT BACK

The Leafs returned defenceman Jaime Sifers, who was called up for the western trip as insurance, back to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League yesterday. Sifers did not play on the trip.

WILD AILING

Wild right wing Owen Nolan left Friday's game against Vancouver with another lower-body injury. He joins Marian Gaborik, who has a similarly unspecified lower-body injury.


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