You Can Play Collaborates with the NHL
standing up for equality in sports
The You Can Play project was started five years ago to ensure a safe and inclusive environment in all sports for LGBTQ athletes, coaches, and fans. This past February they teamed up with the NHL to host a month long event for equality in hockey. The You Can Play project also gained 30 new members to help further their cause when one player from every NHL team was announced as an ambassador for the organization.
According to the announcement on the NHL website, ‘These players have agreed to lead the way in their markets and fight homophobia in sports; some will be featured in local public service announcements’.
On CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, You Can Play co-founder Patrick Burke confirmed this by saying that, “The player will be responsible for being the go-to person on his team when it comes to LGBTQ events or media questions or issues.”
Burke called the announcement of the NHL ambassadors “a really exciting moment for the NHL,” and went on to say that, “It's the first time that any professional league has had one designated player on each team who will be the LGBTQ ambassador.”
Andrew Shaw Steps Up for the Canadians
One of the more notable players to step up and become an ambassador for his team is Andrew Shaw of the Montreal Canadians. Shaw was suspended for using a gay slur while playing for the Chicago Blackhawks last year.
When talking about Shaw’s volunteer commitment to the You Can Play Project, Burke told the audience that, "He wanted this responsibility, and I think it's a real tribute to the growth he's made in a short period of time."
Power in Words
When asked about his new role as an ambassador at a Canadians practice, Shaw said that he wanted to use his experience to make sure that others were aware of the ‘strength of words.’
Shaw went on to further explain his decision by saying that, "I want it to be about the program, not about me. I just want to be there to help, and help is what I'm going to give."
Andrew Shaw Interview
Select NHL teams celebrated local LGBTQ community members by hosting a You Can Play night for one designated home game during the month of February.
February 11th saw the Toronto Maple Leafs hosting their You Can Play night at the Air Canada Centre against the Buffalo Sabres.
Here’s a Complete list of You Can Play ambassadors from each NHL club:
- Anaheim Ducks -- Ryan Kesler
- Arizona Coyotes -- Oliver Ekman-Larsson
- Boston Bruins -- Brad Marchand
- Buffalo Sabres -- Anders Nilsson
- Carolina Hurricanes -- Eddie Lack
- Calgary Flames -- Matt Stajan
- Chicago Blackhawks -- Trevor Van Riemsdyk
- Colorado Avalanche -- Gabriel Landeskog
- Columbus Blue Jackets -- Scott Hartnell
- Dallas Stars -- Curtis McKenzie
- Detroit Red Wings -- Frans Nielsen
- Edmonton Oilers -- Matt Hendricks
- Florida Panthers -- Shawn Thornton
- Los Angeles Kings -- Dustin Brown
- Minnesota Wild -- Charlie Coyle
- Montreal Canadiens -- Andrew Shaw
- Nashville Predators -- Colin Wilson
- New Jersey Devils -- Andy Greene
- New York Islanders -- Casey Cizikas
- New York Rangers -- Mats Zuccarello
- Ottawa Senators -- Dion Phaneuf
- Philadelphia Flyers -- Claude Giroux
- Pittsburgh Penguins -- Chris Kunitz
- San Jose Sharks -- Chris Tierney
- St. Louis Blues -- David Perron
- Tampa Bay Lightning -- Brian Boyle
- Toronto Maple Leafs -- James van Riemsdyk
- Vancouver Canucks -- Henrik Sedin
- Washington Capitals -- Braden Holtby
- Winnipeg Jets -- Jacob Trouba
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