Sean Avery's road back to the NHL has officially started.
The Dallas Stars placed the winger on waivers Saturday and will be able to assign him to the American Hockey League if he goes unclaimed by noon on Monday.
Avery spent the past two months in a league-mandated counselling program after making his infamous “sloppy seconds” remark in early December. He’s now been cleared from that program.
Following a New York Post report that New York has had front-office talks about the possibility of bringing back Avery, the Stars scored six third-period goals last night in a 10-2 home victory over the slumping Rangers.
"I can't comment on that," Rangers coach Tom Renney said before the game. "He's Dallas Stars property. It’s ridiculous for me to even go down that road."
If the Rangers reacquire Avery on waivers, they would be responsible for half of the rest of his four-year, $15.5 million contract he signed with Dallas in the offseason after leaving New York as a free agent. For Avery to be eligible for the playoffs, the Rangers would have to pick him up before the March 4 trade deadline.
Avery's short stay with Dallas ended when he made crude comments to reporters about former girlfriends before a Dec. 3 game in Calgary. He was suspended for six games by the NHL and entered a counseling program. Stars officials and players have said they don't want Avery back under any circumstances.
Avery's agent, Pat Morris, told The Dallas Morning News that his client is close to completing the requirements of his anger management therapy and could petition the NHL for reinstatement as soon as Monday.
"Sean is a good hockey player," Renney said. "He can help anybody he plays for, there's no question about that....This is a guy who can play and is a great teammate. He was always there for his teammates and laid it on the line every night."
The 28-year-old Avery has played for Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and Dallas during his career. He wore out his welcome with both the Kings and Stars, and will be under a fair bit of scrutiny wherever he ends up next.
With files from THE ASSOCIATED PRESS