Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery leaves a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008 in New York. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Frank Franklin II
DALLAS - Sean Avery's stint with the Dallas Stars lasted just 23 games.
The NHL team announced Sunday morning it was done with the feisty winger, noting that it was time for the Stars to have "closure on this episode." Avery received a six-game suspension from commissioner Gary Bettman after saying earlier this month that other NHL players are after his "sloppy seconds." While that ban ended when Dallas played in Nashville on Saturday night, Avery will not return to hockey until the Stars can find somewhere else for him to play.
"I'm not so sure that it's an easy or hard deal," Stars co-general manager Brett Hull said during a conference call Sunday morning. "You want what's best for the player, but more importantly for us, we want what's best for the Dallas Stars and our owner Tom Hicks.
"It's something you have to look at and do what's right for both parties. That's what we're trying to do, and hopefully when it's all said and done down the road that is what's happened."
Also on Sunday, the Stars acquired forward Brian Sutherby from the Anaheim Ducks for U.S. college player David McIntyre and a conditional 2010 sixth-round draft pick. The club also re-assigned defenceman Dan Jancevski to the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs.
Sutherby had three goals and three assists with Anaheim this season. The six-foot-three, 209-pound centre has appeared in 321 career NHL games with Washington and Anaheim, recording 68 points (29 goals, 39 assists).
McIntyre is competing in his junior season at Colgate University of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The five-foot-11, 190-pound forward has a team-leading 12 points in 14 games.
Dallas signed Avery to a US$15.5-million, four-year contract over the summer and hoped he would help put the Western Conference finalists over the top. However, the 28-year-old never fit in on a team that is currently 27th overall in the league standings.
Hull said the entire Avery situation could be summed up as simply a player not wanting to follow team rules.
"I would imagine you could look at it that way," he said. "I honestly believe the issues that Sean had really kind of festered when he came to Dallas and things didn't work out for him as he had planned, as we had planned.
"But I think a lot of those things, I think you could say were kind of brought on by himself. It's a two-way street. Sure, you have to be accepted but you have to do everything you can to be accepted as well. It was just a bad situation."
So, did Dallas pay too much for Avery?
"That's not really a fair question," Hull said when posed the question. "I think July 1 everybody that is signed is overpaid, I think that's just the nature of the beast.
"You've got a guy with no ties to any team getting bid on by a lot of teams that want you so things get inflated. So I guess to answer it honestly, I would say yes but we also thought we had a guy that could help the Dallas Stars continue on their winning ways."
The Stars say they won't challenge the conduct clause in Avery's contract and will explore any options for his future that are consistent with the anger management counselling he's receiving as part of his suspension.
But Hull said nothing will happen until after Avery completes his counselling.
"First things first, he has to get out of the treatment that he's doing and we have no idea how long that's going to take," Hull said. "There's no sense talking about it until he gets better."
Hull and Avery were once teammates with the Detroit Red Wings and the GM was integral in bringing him to Dallas over the summer.
The Stars were Avery's fourth NHL team and at least the second where things ended badly. The Los Angeles Kings sent him home midway through the 2006-07 season before trading him to the New York Rangers.
After this latest episode, it will likely be tough for the Stars to orchestrate a similar deal with another NHL team. They do have the option of putting him on waivers and sending him to the American Hockey League - although Dallas doesn't have an affiliate and would have to find an AHL team that wants him.
Further, they could subject Avery to re-entry waivers and split his salary with any NHL team that puts in a claim for him.
One thing that became fairly clear after Avery made his comments Dec. 2 was that he had lost the faith of the organization. Hicks called him a "troubled young man" while coach Dave Tippett and several players made it clear they didn't want him back in the dressing room.
Now it's time for everyone to move on, amicably.
"We don't want to ruin Sean or his career," Hull said. "We want him to get better and we needed, obviously, to part ways with Sean and it's amicable that way as well.
"The Stars need to move on; the team needs to move on and start winning on a more consistent basis. He (Avery) needs to take care of himself so that when he is done, he can continue playing hockey. We just wanted to make sure everyone was taken care of and that he would still have the opportunity to play hockey when this was all said and done."