PALM BEACH – Sean Avery’s future with the Dallas Stars could be decided on Wednesday in Dallas, when owner Tom Hicks sits down with his lieutenants in Dallas.
"We’re going to look at all the alternatives, and some recommendations from Brett [Hull], Les [Jackson] and Jeff (Cogen, Stars president)," Hicks said on Monday as he arrived at the National Hockey League’s board of governors meeting at the swish Breaker Hotel on the Florida coast.
Avery is in the midst of serving a six-game suspension for his use of the term "sloppy seconds" when referring to Elisha Cuthbert last week in Calgary.
Has he played his last game as a Star?
"I’m not prepared to say that yet. I want to give our guys the respect they deserve to make the recommendations.," Hicks said. "Certainly when [Dallas head coach] Dave Tippett comes out and stakes his claim, it’s pretty hard to overcome that."
The day after Avery’s outburst, Tippett made it pointedly clear that he did not want to see Avery in his dressing room ever again.
"I’m trying to build a team where the players care about each other, that has continuity," Tippett said last Wednesday. "I find it hard to believe that Sean could come back in the room and we would have that continuity.
"My job is to build the best team possible," he continued. "I don’t know if we can build the best team possible with Sean in the room."
The discussion this Wednesday in Dallas will also include talk on whether the Stars can somehow use this latest in a long line of incidents to get out of the four-year, US $15.5 million free agent deal they signed Avery to this past summer.
"We’ve got a team of guys doing all that. I’ll hear those Wednesday too," Hicks said. "We want to look at everything from what’s right for Sean – not [just] as a hockey player. He’s a troubled young man, and I think that’s going to be our first priority: what can we do to help him away from hockey."
The injury-plagued Stars are mired in last place in the Western Conference.
None of the Stars players have come to Avery’s defence, or said he would be welcomed back into the fold should management decide to have him back.
The Stars options are few, if they can not establish a precedence to rescind his contract, something that the NHL Players’ Association would no doubt grieve. They could send him to a minor league team – the Stars do not have their own American League affiliate – and hope that he gets claimed on waivers on the way down, or on the way up.
If he is claimed on re-entry waivers when Dallas calls him up, the Stars would be on the hook for fifty percent of his salary, while the team claiming him would pay the other half.
"He’s painted our organization with a brush that no one wants to be painted with," said Tippett. "Ten minutes before Sean came out with those comments, I had defended him [to the media]. It’s very disappointing to me."