When filming for the You Can Play Project PSAs began, we found it incredibly easy to get players to appear. Superstar athletes showed up, were filmed reading our scripts, and went back to work. But what do they say when no one’s there to script them? We’ve collected some of the uncensored, unrehearsed, and unscripted thoughts of National Hockey League superstars and Commissioner Gary Bettman regarding LGBT athletes.
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks: “You look at what it’s for (and) it’s not hard to say yes. It’s something that you have to respect. For Burkie and for Patrick Burke, it’s something special for them. When you got guys supporting that kind of thing it just shows that everybody’s on the same page. Everybody’s on board and everybody cares about one another and that’s the biggest thing.”
Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers: “We live in a diverse world where if anyone sets their mind to do anything they can do it, no matter race or sexuality or anything. There’s a lot of guys involved, which speaks well for the League. … It’s pretty cool that everyone is on board.”
Shawn Thornton, Boston Bruins: “My hometown is a very blue collar, industrial place. There isn’t much of a [gay] community there, but 20 minutes down the road was Toronto. So while I didn’t really grow up with a huge gay community there was one close by and it’s never been an issue with me. We’re family in here. We’re around each other more than our own families so you create a certain bond and everyone supports each other in whatever they are doing. That’s definitely the case in this locker room. I have known all of these guys for a long time. All that we went through last year and being around each other until mid-June, I know this room would be unbelievable.”
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: “It’s obvious that everyone should have the same rights and ability to play the game, it doesn’t matter race or sexual orientation. To me, I think overall, all the hockey players I meet are a respectful group of people. I’ve never had an issue with it or seen people have issues with it. But when they asked me, if they wanted my help, I would. I’ve never been on a team where guys come out. I don’t know how guys would react. I can say from the people I know, that players are very respectful. Honestly, it wouldn’t be a problem.”
James Van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers: “I wouldn’t have thought any different of a teammate or whoever if they were gay, and I owe that to my parents for raising me to treat everyone the same way, and to treat people the way I would want to be treated. Patrick started all of this for his brother, to carry on his mission and raise awareness. I had a few buddies who played at Miami College of Ohio where Brendan was the team manager, and they had great things to say about him, just about what a great kid he was. So when Patrick approached me about getting involved, knowing what I knew about him and his family, it just seemed like a great thing to do. The Burkes are a great family and good people, and they’re people I’d want to get involved with.”
Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers: “It’s a great initiative, and the way they’re handling it. Whether your race or your sexual orientation, I don’t think it really matters. As long as you’re good enough to be in the game, that’s all that really matters.”
Andy Miele, Phoenix Coyotes: “You could see how much Brendan cared for the sport and if his sexual orientation prevented him from achieving something that he loved so much, that basically wasn’t fair. Hopefully we help bring awareness that it’s just a sexual orientation and nothing more, and it shouldn’t prevent anyone from achieving their dreams.”