The NHL today announced the hiring of Patrick Burke as new director of player safety. Burke is the co-founder of the You Can Play Project, which aims to end homophobia and anti-gay language in sports. Burke is also a former scout for the Philadelphia Flyers. The hiring of Hall of Famer Brian Leetch was also announced.
"Brian Leetch and Patrick Burke are two astute members of the hockey community who will bring unique perspectives and personal experiences to the Department of Player Safety," [the NHL's Brendan] Shanahan said. "As one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, Brian displayed a rare sense of the game and its nuances that will be a tremendous asset to our department's efforts to make the game safer for our players while maintaining its physicality and passion. The ability to evaluate players that Patrick refined as a pro and amateur scout will be invaluable to the team that monitors games each night to both identify incidents that might merit Supplemental Discipline and to note developing trends in our game."
Earlier this week, the You Can Play project announced the hiring of Wade Davis as the organization's executive director. Burke will remain on the board of the organization but is stepping away from day-to-day duties. The hiring of Davis had been in the works for several months and had nothing to do with Burke's new position with the NHL.
On a personal note, Burke has been a tireless advocate for LGBT athletes, and it brings warmth to the hearts of everyone here at Outsports to see him take a big step in his career. As I told him a few weeks ago, hopefully he'll remember the little people when he's the NHL commissioner.