Dozens of NHL players have now made videos on behalf of the You Can Play Project. Many more have spoken up with their support for the idea that athletes shouldn’t be judged on characteristics of ethnicity, gender or sexuality. This is the second of a three-part look at quotes from some of these players talking about You Can Play.
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins: “Brian (Burke) is a friend of mine and I immediately agreed to become a part of it. I really like the message behind it. It’s one of the reasons I love the game of hockey so much. It shouldn’t matter who you are or what you believe in, if you can play hockey then you can play in this league. I was very happy to be involved and help out any way I could. I think the message is important.”
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: “Right away I knew that I wanted to do it (You Can Play). It’s a very important subject. It’s a touchy subject to certain people and we want to just raise awareness. I thought it was a great cause and I’m happy so many other players have got involved and hopefully we can raise awareness.”
Ryan Jones, Edmonton Oilers: “I think the hockey community is a place where it’s tough for a player to come out, and tough for guys to speak what they really feel about gays and lesbians. And for the campaign to come out and get a good group of guys to talk about it, it’s going to raise awareness and show the acceptance of the hockey community.”
Mike Komisarek, Toronto Maple Leafs: “You don’t treat them (LGBT teammates) any differently. They’re still a friend and a teammate, and you care about them. Together we’re all striving for the same goal, so as long as they’re getting their job done, their beliefs don’t affect the way that we view them.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: “I think it’s the right thing to do, I’m fully supportive of it and I’m very proud of Patrick and Brian Burke for everything they’ve done in that regard. I do think in terms of everything this campaign represents, in terms of tolerance and no bullying, is one that is constructive in making it a better environment for anybody who wants to participate in sport- we’re making progress”
Matt Moulson, New York Islanders: “I’m honored and proud to be a part of this campaign. Sometimes in pro sports this issue is the kind of thing that gets swept under the rug, but it’s there and it’s important. Sexual orientation shouldn’t affect how players are treated. It’s one thing for politicians or non-profit leaders to discuss LGBT equality, but when role models like pro athletes become advocates for the cause, it can reach vast new audiences and create resounding awareness. If the situation comes up on a team I’m on, I’d be willing to help in any way I could. It would never change how I view a teammate. Based purely on percentages, I’ve probably played with someone or will play with someone who is LGBT. But it shouldn’t affect how you treat a teammate and it wouldn’t affect how I treated them. We’ve seen pro athletes in basketball and football come out after they’re done playing and it seems like there’s a lot of frustration there. This should not affect how players are treated – by teammates or anyone.”
Chris Thorburn, Winnipeg Jets: “It’s great. Get the awareness out. [Coming out] is a person’s choice and it should be respected.”