In a 2009 article published by ESPN.com, John Buccigross detailed the plight of a young team manager for the Miami-Ohio University Hockey Club. As the team manager told Buccigross, “Middle school and early high school is the first time I remember thinking that I could be gay, but I definitely tried to ignore it and didn’t want to seriously consider it. It’s pretty easy to try and convince yourself that it’s not true, but it won’t work, ever.”
That team manager was Brendan Burke, son of the General Manager of 2014 Olympic Hockey Team U.S.A., Brian Burke. The article was Brendan’s official coming out to the world as a gay man attempting to make a living in professional sports. He had quit hockey as a player shortly after making the extremely competitive Varsity hockey team at his prep-school in Boston, citing reasons of playing time and a disconnect with the coach. But it turns out that wasn’t the real reason why. The pressure of his father’s success as a front office mogul in the hockey world, and the reputation of his entire family’s toughness placed a large burden on Brendan, one that kept him in the closet until 2007, when he first came out to his father. It was the Burke family toughness that brought Brendan to the forefront of gay rights in professional sports, and started the You Can Play Project, three years after his coming out to the family. The project was a joint effort to raise awareness throughout the NHL — and nation — on gay members of our sports teams, both recreational and professional.
Flash forward to 2014. With the latest video by the Colorado Avalanches’ captain, Gabriel Landeskog, every one of the 30 NHL teams has had a player publicly support the You Can Play project and gay players in their locker rooms. It’s the first professional sports league of its kind to accomplish this feat. Players from each team have either made public appearances, or recorded videos like the one with the Colorado Avalanche logo front and center below to show their support. They’re not simply a silent partner. Nor is the NHL.
Below, as listed by YouCanPlayProject.org, is a full list of participating players.
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
Image: Roman Hamrlik vs. Joffrey Lupul dueling for position (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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