By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 25, 2009
New York Rangers agitator Sean Avery avoided a suspension from the NHL yesterday but was held accountable for his controversial actions at the end of Game 4 by his coach, John Tortorella.
"It was my decision, and that's what it was," Tortorella told reporters after the game.
Avery, who had the third-most penalty minutes in the playoffs with 24, put the Rangers down a man twice in the final 9 minutes 39 seconds as his team clung to a one-goal lead over the Washington Capitals in an eventual 2-1 win Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
The move was not announced before game time by the Rangers, but it became apparent that the winger would not suit up for last night's Game 5 when he did not come out for pregame warmups.
"Well, I mean, it's one of those things before the game, we all know what Torts is going to do," Rangers forward Scott Gomez said. "He is who he is. He just shows you, it doesn't matter who you are. If you're not on the same page, or whatever, he's going to do that. That's just him."
Rangers General Manager Glen Sather confirmed that Avery had not been suspended, and Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau said he agreed with the NHL's decision.
"He hasn't done anything that the league has to get involved in," Boudreau said before last night's game. "He took a penalty for roughing. He took a penalty for high sticking. We're grateful for the penalties to give us the opportunity."
Avery, who has not spoken to the media all series, was assessed a total of six minor penalties and a misconduct in Games 3 and 4 alone. The most controversial was a roughing penalty he received when he punched Capitals defenseman Milan Jurcina in the face after an icing call and appeared to catch him with the butt end of his stick. The blow left Jurcina with a black eye and opened a cut on his nose.
"It's dangerous," Jurcina said on Thursday. "In the last few minutes of the game, he slashed [Brian Pothier] in the face. It's no joke what he did. It's not part of hockey."
It's unclear if Avery was fined by the league because fines are not announced. The maximum amount allowed under the collective bargaining agreement is $2,500.Carlson Sent to Hershey
The Capitals assigned defenseman John Carlson, a first- round pick draft pick (27th overall) last summer, to the minor league Hershey Bears yesterday.
Carlson, who signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Capitals in November, played for the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights, who were eliminated from the playoffs this week.
Carlson, a two-way defenseman, impressed the Capitals' coaching staff and management during training camp and followed that up with a strong season with the Knights. In 59 games, Carlson had 16 goals and 60 assists.
It's unclear when the 19-year-old will suit up for the Bears, who closed out the Philadelphia Phantoms in the first round of the American Hockey League playoffs.