Campbell issues statement on Avery-Simmonds flap

National Hockey League senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell has issued a statement regarding an incident during a Monday preseason contest between Rangers forward Sean Avery and Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

Allegedly, anti-gay and racial slurs were exchanged in heated discussions between both players.

Campbell's statement said the league has looked into the allegations but has not been able to substantiate what was said and by whom. His statement said Simmonds "expressly" denied using the homophobic slur he's alleged to have said, and none of the on-ice officials close to the altercations heard what was said.

Campbell said the league is unable to take disciplinary action because of the lack of information, but reserves the right to revisit the issue.

"All players, coaches and officials in the National Hockey League deserve the respect of their peers, and have the absolute right to function in a work environment that is free from racially or sexually based innuendo or derision," the statement, issued Tuesday, said. "This is the National Hockey League's policy and it will remain so going forward.

"It also is important to emphasize that the National Hockey League holds, and will continue to hold, our players to higher standards with respect to their conduct both on and off the ice. While we recognize that the emotion involved in certain on-ice confrontations may lead to the use of highly charged and sometimes offensive language and commentary, certain lines cannot be crossed. Specifically, we have for many years emphasized to our clubs and players that commentary directed at the race or ethnicity of other participants in the game (or even non-participants), or that is otherwise socially or morally inappropriate or potentially hurtful -- including as it may relate to sexual orientation -- is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

The Flyers won the game by a 5-3 count. The clubs do not meet again until November 26 at Madison Square Garden.