You Can Play - Unscripted, Part 3
From Vancouver and San Jose to Long Island and Winnipeg, some of the biggest stars in the NHL have shown their support for LGBT athletes, saying teams are like families and everyone will be respected. Here's what players are saying:
Tanner Glass, Winnipeg Jets: “A hockey locker room is a place to be accepting. The fact there are no openly gay athletes in our sport is not right. If you look at the numbers, statistically there’s got to be a few guys. Anything we can do to make it more comfortable for them, the better. The language has got to be the first thing to go.”
Luke Schenn, Toronto Maple Leafs: “You wouldn’t think differently if a guy if he was or wasn’t gay. Everyone’s the same and everyone’s welcome around here. We’re all a team here. The NHL is one big family, and everyone’s welcome. If there’s a gay player out there I’m sure he’d be a great role model and a lot of kids would benefit from it.”
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks: “I think it’s great. It’s something we support. And for them to carry on the legacy of Brian [Burke’s] son, and Patrick’s brother, it’s a great way to do that and, like I said, we’re extremely supportive. [I would do a PSA] if they ask. I don’t think anyone that I know wouldn’t do it. To support the Burke family…would be an honour, for sure. I can’t talk for all of us, but the guys I’ve talked to, and myself and my brother, it would be no problem at all [for a teammate to come out]. It’s not going to change the way we see them or the way we treat them. They’re one of us and they’re part of the team. In here, it would not be a problem. [I support You Can Play] 100 percent. To have this message — it’s a powerful message — and to have the Burke family doing this, it’s great. And I’m hoping it’s going to help a lot of people.”
Franz Nielsen, New York Islanders: “It’s good for hockey that we’re doing this. I think it’s an issue that’s growing and it’s going to be more accepted; people who are LGBT won’t have to hide it. I think in other sports it’s going to be a normal issue at some point soon, too. It’s definitely great that hockey started it though. It shows that we care. Ten years back, this never would have happened, so I think we came a long way. No one has an issue with it. You’re going to hear more about it, not just in hockey but in all sports. If it’s a teammate, if it’s a friend from back home, I’ll still be your friend, your teammate. It won’t change anything. It’s definitely going to happen on teams in the future. I think everybody would be supportive of a guy on the team.”
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers: “As players, we are in a fortunate position to help, to get together and lend our support. We want to help. Even though time for us to do things is tough at points during the season, there is never a question of wanting to be involved with something like this.”
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks: “It’s a great cause. Brian Burke’s son was the first one to come out, and obviously, we know he passed away, and I think it’s a legacy to him. Burkie was my first-ever general manager and anything I can do to help him and help the cause — it’s for the better. I think this campaign that’s going on is going to help a lot. When Brendan Burke did that, he was the first-ever one to come out, and I think that gets the ball rolling. I think for some guys it’s a tough thing to do, but I don’t see anything wrong with it. I would be definitely okay with it. I’m open-minded to that. If you’re okay with coming out and strong enough to come out — because we all know how people can be. It’s a very different world out there; people are very closed-minded. It’s good to see that this campaign is going to open some people’s eyes. We’re a big family in here and I’m sure every single guy in here would be more than supportive and help them along the way.”
Tommy Wingels, San Jose Sharks: "We just want to create an atmosphere where if someone's ready [to come out], they're able to do that. We're trying to eliminate the casual homophobia in the game and in the locker room... It's not just hockey we're talking about. It's sports in general. We want people to be judged on their talent. Nothing else should really matter. The cool part about it is it's very easy to be a part of. Whether you're on the board (You Can Play advisory board) like myself, or you're just a guy in the locker room, it's about watching what you say and creating an environment that is safe for everyone."
On behalf of the entire You Can Play team, we thank these players and those who have participated and shown their support.