Avery would support a gay player

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:56 PM ET

There have been a lot of adjectives to describe New York Rangers forward Sean Avery.

Now there's another.

Compassionate?

The controversial agitator has gotten himself into trouble with trash talk and was the target of a lewd gesture by then-New York Islanders defenceman James Wisniewski earlier this season.

But he said if there's a gay hockey player out there seeking support to come out, the player need only pick up the phone.

Avery said he's willing to support a player who might feel intimidated by the decision to openly declare his sexual orientation.

"If there's a kid in Canada or wherever, who is playing and really loves the game and wants to keep playing but he's worried about coming out, I'd tell him to pick up the phone and call (NHLPA executive director) Donald Fehr and tell him to book me a (plane) ticket.

"I'll stand beside him in the dressing room while he tells his teammates he is gay. Maybe if Sean Avery is there, they would have less of a problem with it."

Avery, whose comments in the past have landed him in hot water (he was suspended in December 2008 for his "sloppy seconds" comment about former girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert and then-Calgary Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf), showed a kinder, gentler side on the subject of playing with a gay teammate.

He said it would be no big deal after living in popular gay communities such as West Hollywood in California, when he played for the Los Angeles Kings, and now Chelsea in New York.

Avery said there are "probably a few gay players in the NHL, but I don't know if somebody has the courage (to come out)."

He said there probably would be more issues outside the dressing room than inside.

"The reaction from fans in visiting arenas would be tough," Avery said, "but I don't think it would be that big a deal. I get booed no matter where I go."


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