We’re pretty sure this is history.
Gabe Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche is adding his voice to the fight for inclusion and equality. And, he’s bringing back-up. A team captain in one of the world’s major sports leagues, and young hockey players from his city’s high school teams, are speaking on behalf of players and fans who might be different from us – maybe black, maybe a different religion, or maybe gay.
But, it’s more than a cool captain and some cooler kids representing a new era of equality in sports. It’s also the day that every team in the National Hockey League has now been represented by a player who has spoken on behalf of LGBT athletes, team staff, coaches and fans. Think about that. Every team in the NHL.
In a month that saw incendiary allegations of homophobia against professional team coaches and staff, and saw slurs tossed at a player in a bowl game, we see progress. And we hear the support. From the women of Seattle Reign FC in the Pacific Northwest, to the student athletes at Duke, Carolina and Miami. From the honest talk of the Toronto Blue Jays, to the Bay Area all-stars.
And, now, we’ll say it again: every team in the NHL has now been represented by You Can Play teammates.
From one of the most rough and tumble games in sports, dozens of players – high schoolers and pick-up artists, all-stars and Olympians – have spoken up: discrimination isn’t right. Owners have said their players, and their sons, and their daughters, deserve a chance to play the sports they love. Coaches have said they want winners, straight or gay. Marketing guys, cameramen, social media wizards, community relations and front office staffs have signed on. And, equipment managers have said they’re willing to speak up for the gay guy.
And, then there are the fans. For every kid on a frozen pond or hockey mom in an early-morning rink to every small-town girl watching in a sometimes-rodeo arena to every suit-and-tie suiteholder, you have company in cheering heart, talent and skill and not caring who those players love.
Today’s NHL milestone is a step. It’s a worthy accomplishment, and an acknowledgment that some of the toughest players in the world will face a camera and say maybe they’re not who we thought they were– they’re actually sportsmen who care about their teammates and fans, gay and straight alike. In the first You Can Play video Patrick, Brian, Rick, Duncan, Matt, Joffrey, Claude, Daniel, Scott, Corey, Andy, Dion and Henrik all said it. Hundreds of athletes from every part of the world – and every major North American sports league – have said it since. And, today, Gabe and players from Mountain Vista and Regis Jesuit said it again. And, we’ll say it for as long as it takes: if you can play, you can play.
The NHL Players Who’ve Participated In You Can Play – to date:
Anaheim Ducks – George Parros, Corey Perry
Buffalo Sabres – Jason Pominville
Boston Bruins – Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference
Calgary Flames – Brian Burke, TJ Galiardi, Kevin Westgarth
Colorado Avalanche – Gabe Landeskog
Columbus Blue Jackets – Rick Nash, RJ Umburger
Carolina Hurricanes –Tim Brent, Tim Gleason, Manny Malhotra, Tuomo Ruutu, Kevin Westgarth
Chicago Blackhawks – Duncan Keith, Ben Smith
Dallas Stars – Brenden Morrow
Edmonton Oilers – Jordan Eberle, Ryan Jones, Ryan Whitney
Detroit Red Wings – Daniel Alfredsson
Florida Panthers – Brian Campbell, Ryan Whitney
Los Angeles Kings – Dustin Brown, Alec Martinez
Minnesota Wild – Cal Clutterbuck, Jason Pominville
Montreal Canadiens – Brian Gionta, Douglas Murray, George Parros, Carey Price, Brandon Prust
Nashville Predators – Shea Weber, W. Brett Wilson (owner)
New Jersey Devils – Mark Fayne, Andy Greene
New York Islanders – Matt Moulson, Frans Nielsen
New York Rangers – Brian Boyle, Henrik Lundquist, Brandon Prust
Ottawa Senators – Daniel Alfredsson
Philadelphia Flyers – Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, James van Riemsdyk
Phoenix Coyotes – Mikkel Boedker, Shane Doan, Andy Miele, David Moss, Keith Yandle
Pittsburgh Penguins – Tanner Glass, Brooks Orpik
San Jose Sharks – Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Tommy Wingels
St. Louis Blues – Brian Elliott, Brenden Morrow
Tampa Bay Lighting – Steven Stamkos
Toronto Maple Leafs – Tyler Bozak, Tim Gleason, Joffrey Lupul, Nazim Kadri, Dion Phaneuf, James van Riemsdyk, David Steckel
Vancouver Canucks – Jason Garrison, Tanner Glass, Ryan Kesler, Manny Malhotra, Henrik Sedin
Washington Capitals – Matt Hendricks, Mike Knuble
Winnipeg Jets – Dustin Byfuglien