Sean Avery surged past camera crews and reporters Thursday, choosing to save his comments this time for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during a three-hour disciplinary hearing.
The Dallas Stars forward was suspended indefinitely on Tuesday just hours after he used a crude expression to describe former girlfriends now dating others while speaking to reporters.
Hockey’s most notorious pest came to league headquarters in midtown Manhattan to give his version of the latest events that landed him in big trouble. Now it’s up to Bettman to determine just how long Avery will be kept off the ice.
The NHL said that announcement would be made Friday.
“I haven’t made a decision yet,” Bettman said Thursday during his weekly radio show broadcast on NHL.com. “I want to take the opportunity to spend a little time thinking about what transpired at the hearing and everything that I was told and that needs to be considered.
“I want to reflect on it.”
Dressed in a gray suit and wearing big, dark designer sunglasses, Avery didn’t say a word as he made his way from a car to the league office and back.
He was joined at the hearing by his agent Pat Morris, Stars general manager Brett Hull and players’ association player affairs director Glenn Healy.
NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell was also in attendance, but Bettman is handling Avery’s punishment.
“He was remorseful in what he did. It’s about all you can do,” Hull said. “I hope that we can put this all behind us and we can make sure that the league and the Stars and the NHLPA do everything to make sure that I don’t have to stand here or anyone else has to stand here and talk about stupid things like this anymore and make sure they don’t happen.”
Although this is Avery’s first suspension in his seven-season NHL career, he often has courted controversy with his comments or unorthodox behavior on the ice.
Stars owner Tom Hicks was quick to support Bettman’s decision to suspend Avery, and Avery’s teammates have not rallied around him. Even after he serves whatever suspension Bettman levies, there is no guarantee he will be welcomed back into the dressing room he joined this season.
“I don’t know,” Hull said. “That is something that is going to have to be addressed within our organization.”
Avery left the New York Rangers after 1 1/2 seasons this summer and signed a four-year, $15.5 million deal with the Stars. Dallas might seek to cut ties with him as soon as possible.
“He is a good kid, he is a good player and it shows in the salary he commanded in the summer,” Healy said. “I have no doubt that if the Dallas Stars have no interest in Sean’s services, a team will. He showed in this city what he can mean to a hockey club.”
Healy added that the tone in the meeting room was professional and not based in anger.
“We’ve got to get along,” he said. “We’ve got to share the same interests, we’ve got to grow the game, and we’re going to do it together. We’re going to do it the right way. Today’s process is good. The player gets his voice heard.
“He made all his points really clear. He is a good kid that made a mistake. It was the wrong forum, and he used the wrong words.”
Avery was denied a chance by teammates to apologize to them, and his message of contrition on Wednesday was distributed by his California-based publicist and not by the Stars.
“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.”