In the wake of New York Rangers winger Sean Avery's endorsement of gay marriage, Barry Melrose suggests openly gay athletes would be a distraction.

The 31-year-old Avery recorded a video released on Saturday for the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign. The hockey player's endorsement prompted Todd Reynolds, who represents several NHL players, to message on Twitter: “Very sad to read Sean Avery's misguided support for same-gender 'marriage.' Legal or not, it will always be wrong.”

ESPN's Outside the Lines tackled the controversy of homophobia in sports on Tuesday.

On the program, hockey analyst and former coach Barry Melrose said that from the perspective of a teammate or coach “you don't even want to think that [a player is] gay,” and suggested that openly gay players would be a distraction for the team.

“I think it's a problem that coaches don't want to handle,” Melrose said. “I think it's something you do as a coach – you try to solve all the problems – and if there was an openly gay player in your [locker] room, all of a sudden you have to handle that. You have to handle it with the press, you have to handle it with the other players.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)