Dallas' bad boy

It sounds as if Sean Avery, who signed a four-year $15.5 million contract in the summer, isn't wanted back by his Dallas Stars teammates.

Avery was suspended for six games by the league Friday after crude comments he made about his ex-girlfriend, Elisha Cuthbert.

Goalie Marty Turco told the Dallas Morning News that the team has struggled to get along with Avery, and that this incident is just the latest in a long line.

"I could forgive somebody for making a mistake or making a few mistakes, but it goes a lot deeper than that," Turco said.

Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, said Avery's history of inappropriate behavior was a factor in the suspension's length. Avery, who plays the role of an agitator, often insults opponents on the ice to try to get them off their game.

"I try to build a team that has an atmosphere where players care about each other. . . . and play with continuity," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said, "and I find it hard to believe Sean could come back in that dressing room and we could find that continuity again."

Shark attack

Most prognosticators - including this one - said the Detroit Red Wings would be the Stanley Cup champions for 2008-09. But the San Jose Sharks have been the league's top team in the season's first two months. They've made history in the process.

San Jose equaled the best 25-game start in NHL history when it began the year 21-3-1 for 43 points. The 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens also had 43 points (20-2-3) after 25 games. Montreal finished 38-5-7 that season - teams played just 50 games in those days - and won one of its 23 Stanley Cups.

TV attractions

Three teams off to impressive starts - Washington, Chicago and San Jose - are attracting a lot more attention in their television markets.

When compared to a similar time period last year, Washington (up 140 percent), Chicago (up 71 percent) and San Jose (up 50 percent) had the biggest increases in TV viewership among NHL teams, according to Nielsen ratings. The Blackhawks are televising all regular-season games for the first time.

Spectrum flashback

The Flyers dominated the Soviet Red Army and scored a 4-1 win at the Spectrum on Jan. 11. 1976. The Soviets walked off the ice after a hard first-period check thrown by Ed Van Impe on Russian star Valeri Kharlamov, but returned because they learned they wouldn't be paid if they didn't come back.

You could look it up.

- Sam Carchidi