Rangers force Avery to sit out Game 5

Updated: April 24, 2009, 11:47 PM ET
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

WASHINGTON -- The NHL did not suspend Sean Avery, but his own team benched him Friday night.

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The controversial New York Rangers winger, who picked up six minor penalties and a 10-minute misconduct over Games 3 and 4 of the first-round series against the Washington Capitals, was not in pregame warm-up at the Verizon Center on Friday evening.

When asked by ESPN.com whether Avery was out of the lineup, Rangers GM Glen Sather said, "That's right."

Sather also confirmed that the NHL did not suspend Avery, who dealt Capitals defenseman Milan Jurcina a shot to the face Wednesday night in Game 4 in the first of his two third-period penalties. He also was called for high-sticking Brian Pothier with 3:06 remaining in the game.

Rangers coach John Tortorella refused to answer questions about Avery's status for the game after the team's pregame skate Friday.

"You guys, because of what Sean did the other night, want to make it about Sean Avery thing," Tortorella said. "I coach the New York Rangers. I think team concept is the most important thing. That's the way I'm trying to approach this thing.

"I'll give you this: When Sean and I met for the first time when I came here, we both talked that we were going to handle it like men, go through the process, and I'm not going to talk to you guys about Sean Avery or anything else."

Left winger Aaron Voros will replace Avery in the lineup. The Rangers lead the best-of-seven series 3-1.

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer