Vancouver, British Columbia – Vancouver Canucks forward Manny Malhotra, and You Can Play co-founder, Patrick Burke, will march in the Vancouver 2012 Pride Parade, on Sunday, August 5th. The Canucks centre is the third professional hockey player to participate in Pride events this year under the You Can Play banner. Tommy Wingels of the San Jose Sharks and Vincent LoVerde, of the Ontario Reign, marched in Chicago on June 24th.
Malhotra joins Canucks teammates Ryan Kesler and the Sedins, Daniel and Henrik, in lending his name and efforts to You Can Play, an organization dedicated to eliminating homophobia in sports. He is among more than 50 elite NHL players who have taped PSAs and spoken in favor of changing the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing solely on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.
On Malhotra’s efforts, Burke said, “You Can Play is proud and honored to have the Vancouver Canucks and Manny Malhotra join us in supporting LGBT athletes and fans. Vancouver has a wonderful LGBT community and a passionate hockey community. We are thrilled to see the Canucks working to bring those two groups closer together. Having a well-respected warrior in Manny stand up along with Henrik, Daniel, Ryan, and dozens of other NHLers around the League gives hope to young LGBT hockey players everywhere.”
Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, appeared in the debut You Can Play public service announcement in March, with his father, General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke. The PSA was showcased on an NBC NHL Game of the Week broadcast. Since then, the group’s website has featured an additional 20 PSAs done by NHL, AHL, OHL and NCAA athletes. Dozens of additional athletes have spoken in support of You Can Play, with Malhotra, being the most recent.
“I’m thrilled to be able to show my support for You Can Play,” said Manny Malhotra. “It’s paramount that equality in sport, and beyond, becomes the norm. Everybody has the right to play the game they love. I am excited to share this message of equality and show my support this Sunday.”
Burke and Malhotra will march with players from the Vancouver Cutting Edges. Founded to play in the Gay Games in New York in 1994, they are the only gay hockey club in Western Canada.
Emblematic of pro athletes’ embrace of the You Can Play mission, Wingels, an advisory board member of the organization said, “I decided to march because it was a great way to show support for You Can Play. I felt it was important to show that I was an ally, and that there are many others out there as well. I think it is important to be an ally and show that the game of hockey welcomes everybody, regardless of who they are.”
Joining them all at Sunday’s march will be another representative from the Canucks organization, Fin, the team’s mascot. The You Can Play website, home to the player PSAs that promote the organization’s goals and positive messages, is augmented on social media channels, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.