Avery returns to ice with AHL's Wolf Pack

Feb 15, 2009 - 5:42 AM HARTFORD, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Controversial left wing Sean Avery on Saturday returned to the ice after a 2 1/2-month absence but did not factor on the scoresheet with his new team - the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League.

Avery recorded three shots on goal and participated in a pair of minor scraps as the Manitoba Moose posted a 4-1 victory over the Wolf Pack.

Technically still a member of the Dallas Stars organization, Avery cleared waivers Monday and made his debut with the New York Rangers' AHL affiliate.

"Since Sean showed up, he has had a good attitude and mixed in very well with the guys, so everything has been top notch so far," Hartford coach Ken Gernander said.

"We wanted to get him in all situations to get him ice time, and I thought he was quite effective at times. There were maybe one or two forced plays, but that's probably just the product of his first game back and him wanting to be successful."

Avery said he felt "an eerie calmness" to be back on the ice.

"I was definitely a little nervous because it's been a long time (nine years) since I played in this league, and it's a long time since I played (at all)," Avery said. "But that's usually a good thing, and I actually felt better than I expected. My legs felt good, and the hardest part was getting adjusted to the (slower) speed. But mentally and physically, I felt fine."

Avery signed a four-year, $15.5 million contract with the Stars last summer after spending the previous 1 1/2 seasons with New York.

However, Avery was banished from the Stars' locker room after his "sloppy seconds" comment in Calgary on December 2 resulted in a six-game suspension by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for "conduct detrimental to the league or game of hockey."

Avery entered a counseling program under the NHL/NHLPA behavioral health program as a prerequisite for his possible return to the NHL.

The 28-year-old needs to be on an NHL roster by March 4 to be eligible for the playoffs.

For now, Avery was just pleased to return to the ice.

"I feel good that Dallas has given me an opportunity to come here and play, and that the team in Hartford has allowed me to come in and play," Avery said. "I probably could have had a few points if I had buried a few chances or a couple other guys had scored, but other than losing, it was a pretty good night."

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