Stars LW Avery issues apology for televised comments about ex-girlfriends

DALLAS -- Suspended Dallas Stars agitator Sean Avery flew to New York on Wednesday for a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and gave a likely sample of what he'll say by apologizing for comments about his former girlfriends.

"I would like to sincerely apologize for my off-color remarks to the press yesterday from Calgary," Avery said. "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.

"I apologize for offending the great fans of the NHL, the commissioner, my teammates, my coaching staff and the Dallas Stars management and ownership. As many of you know, I like to mix it up on and off the ice from time to time, but understand that this time I took it too far."

Avery got himself in trouble Tuesday when he used a crude expression to describe former girlfriends now dating other hockey players while speaking to reporters. Hours later, Bettman suspended him indefinitely for making "inappropriate public comments, not pertaining to the game."

The hearing will be Thursday morning. Stars co-general manager Brett Hull also flew to New York on Wednesday to represent the club.

"Until Mr. Bettman and the NHL decide what the right punishment is, we're kind of just waiting," Hull said.

The NHL didn't have a timetable for when a decision would be made after the meeting. Avery already has missed two games, in Calgary on Tuesday night and in Edmonton on Wednesday night. The soonest he could return is Friday at home against Colorado.

His absence especially hurts because Dallas has been fighting injuries all season. A lack of healthy bodies has turned last season's Western Conference finalists into one of the worst teams in the NHL thus far this season.

"It's something that's hard to tolerate knowing the situation we're in," Hull said.

Over his seven seasons in the NHL, Avery has grown into the role as hockey's most-hated player, a title he relishes. Yet for all he's done to annoy foes on and off the ice, this is the first time he's been suspended by the league.

This incident took less than 30 seconds.

With reporters in Calgary waiting to speak with Avery about disparaging remarks he made last month about Flames star Jarome Iginla, he walked over to the group, confirmed that cameras were rolling, then said: "I'm just going to say one thing. I'm really happy to be back in Calgary; I love Canada. I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my (former girlfriends). I don't know what that's about, but enjoy the game tonight."

Avery's former girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert of the television show "24" and the movie "Old School," is dating Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf. She also had been romantically linked to Montreal defenseman Mike Komisarek.

"I completely support the league's decision to suspend Sean Avery," Stars owner Tom Hicks said in a statement. "Had the league not have suspended him, the Dallas Stars would have. This organization will not tolerate such behavior, especially from a member of our hockey team. We hold our team to a higher standard and will continue to do so."