PHOENIX — Sean Avery's brief and volatile career with the Kings came to an end after an argument with assistant coach Mark Hardy during practice Wednesday, a source with the team said.
Avery met with General Manager Dave Taylor and interim Coach John Torchetti after practice and then did not travel with the team to Phoenix, where the Kings play the Coyotes tonight.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday April 15, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Kings: In Thursday's Sports, an article about Sean Avery said he would be an unrestricted free agent after the season. He will be a restricted free agent.
A spokesman for the Kings said that while Avery was not suspended, he will not play in the final three games of the regular season or the Stanley Cup playoffs, should the team manage to qualify.
"We're moving on without him," the spokesman said. "We have informed Sean of this."
Avery will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, but the Kings are not expected to retain him.
The incident occurred while the Kings went through a workout before flying to Phoenix. Avery was asked by Hardy to do a drill, refused and was told to leave the ice. The two exchanged words, but it did not become physical.
Avery did not respond to inquiries made by e-mail.
The incident is believed to have amounted to the final straw in a controversial season for the 26-year-old forward who revels in being an instigator on the ice and voicing his opinions off it. More often than not, both got him in trouble
In September, the NHL reprimanded Avery for comments made about French-Canadian players after then-Coyote defenseman Denis Gauthier hit the Kings' Jeremy Roenick in an exhibition game. Avery issued an apology.
In October, during a game against Edmonton, the Oilers' Georges Laraque -- who is black -- accused Avery of using a racial slur. Avery denied the charge. In November, the NHL fined Avery for diving in a game, then fined him again for criticizing the first one.
In January, Avery was benched by then-Coach Andy Murray for disrespecting teammates, though many stood up for him. But last week, King players were privately saying they had had enough after Avery's obscenity-laced tirade at Brian Hayward, the Ducks' color commentator.
Avery's situation was made worse by his deteriorating play since January -- he played only 5 minutes 22 seconds Saturday against the Ducks.
The math is easy for the Kings to make the playoffs, solving the problem will be hard. The Kings must win their remaining three games. Edmonton must lose its final two in regulation, and Vancouver also must lose its final two in regulation. Still, a playoff berth would at least give General Manager Dave Taylor an argument to keep his job.
Luc Robitaille, who is retiring after the season, will be honored by the Kings Saturday during what could be their final home game. They face the Calgary Flames and he will be in the starting lineup.
\o7Times staff writer Pete Thomas contributed to this report.
at Phoenix, FSN West, 7
Site -- Glendale Arena.
Radio -- 710.
Records -- Kings 40-34-5, Coyotes 36-38-5.
Record vs. Coyotes -- 3-2-2.
Update -- Defenseman Aaron Miller had hip surgery to remove a bone spur and torn cartilage and will miss the rest of the season. Center Derek Armstrong (back) and defenseman Brent Sopel (knee) are doubtful. The Kings signed Boston College defenseman Peter Harrold to an entry-level contract that will pay him $765,000 next season, plus a $170,000 signing bonus.