The Vancouver Canucks will turn their home ice, Rogers Arena, purple on Friday in a show of support for GLAAD's Spirit Day and for the You Can Play Project. While the preseason games that should be in the arena have been canceled due to the player lockout, it's an impressive showing of commitment from this NHL team not just on a theoretical level, but also the prominent physical space the Arena holds in Vancouver.
"It's a really cool moment for equality in sports," You Can Play founder Patrick Burke told Outsports. "The Canucks are really setting the pace on this for professional sports teams -- first marching in Vancouver Pride with us, now lighting up their building to stand strong against bullying.
"Think of how much easier it is today to be a gay hockey fan in Vancouver and know that the organization -- from ownership to management to players -- supports you for who you are. Or how much easier it is to be an ally there. If you're a high school kid wavering on whether or not to wear purple or join a GSA or speak up on the issue, how much more secure do you feel knowing that the Canucks are on board? It's an impressive display of leadership and support."
It's not just the Canucks who are making hockey the gay-friendliest pro sports league in the world. The NHL has embraced equality, dozens of players have appeared in You Can Play videos, and their teams have backed them. The NHL is also participating in GLAAD's Spirit Day.
"I'm proud of everything the NHL is doing, both in regard to Spirit Day and in the larger sense," Burke told Outsports. "I really admire the initiative the league is taking on the issue- teams reach out to us constantly to talk things through, to make sure they're being supportive, to check on language, or to just offer support. We've never had a league or team official deny You Can Play anything we've asked to do. Commissioner Bettman has been steadfast in his support since day one, and that support has spread throughout the league. It's incredible how they've thrown the doors open to us and just said "Go to work, and tell us how to help."
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