November 13, 2007 -- TORONTO - Sean Avery is preparing to file a libel charge against a Toronto radio personality who reported yesterday that Saturday's pregame skirmish between the Rangers' winger and the Maple Leafs' Darcy Tucker was incited by Avery referring to Jason Blake's cancer condition, The Post has learned.
Advised by his attorney to decline public comment, Avery has privately denied the charge as broadcast by Howard Berger over The Fan 590.
Berger cited an unnamed Rangers player as the original source of the report.
Tucker, who called Avery "classless" after the match, engaged in a first-period fight with the Rangers' antagonist, but that appeared to be no more than a renewal of the rivalry between the agitators, who also fought April 1 at the Garden.
No other Maple Leaf - including former Islander Blake, who continues to play after recently being diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, and was among the dozen or so players from both teams surrounding the pregame scrum - challenged the winger in the game.
Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice, who surely would have been aware of such comments had they actually been made, said after the game that he had no problem with Avery's pregame antics.
The Post has learned that Avery has been summoned for a hearing here today with NHL Executive VP Colin Campbell.
While Avery is likely to be fined and receive a warning from the league's disciplinary office, he is not expected to be suspended.