This week, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog and high school hockey players from Denver partnered with the You Can Play Project and released a video supporting LGBT equality in sports. The video comes just a few months after You Can Play, along with the Colorado High School Athletics Association, started a contest in which high school athletes from the state would create their own videos supporting LGBT athletes.
What makes Landeskog’s video even more significant is that it means all 30 National Hockey League teams have now had a representative working with You Can Play at some point since the organization launched in 2012, making it the first major sports league in which every team has a player actively promoting LGBT equality in sports (here’s a full list of the NHL representatives).
Watch Landeskog’s video:
“Today’s NHL milestone is a step,” You Can Play, which was co-founded by Brian Burke, the president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames, and is run by his son Patrick Burke, who works for the NHL, wrote on its web site. “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.”
“Young athletes everywhere look up to National Hockey League players as leaders on inclusion,” commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Our players, our Clubs and every member of the NHL family will strive to support important initiatives such as You Can Play in our local communities and around the world.”
The NHL has no openly gay players, but this milestone of sorts should make it easier for the first player to come out. Not only is there a player in every locker room working to combat homophobia and make their teams and league a more tolerant place, this now ensures that the first player to come out do so in a locker room where allies have already begun the push for equality and tolerance.
The original post said that all teams “now have” players working for LGBT equality. The players on two of those teams, the Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators, no longer play for the team, but all 30 teams have had representatives working with You Can Play at some point since the organization launched in 2012.