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22 Tampa Bay Lightning hockey players would be fine with gay teammate

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Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos
Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos
Harry How

In a survey by the Tampa Bay Times, 22 of the 23 players on the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning said they would accept an openly gay teammate. The question was asked in the wake of comments Super Bowl week by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver saying he would not accept a gay teammate. (All of 22 players asked said yes, and one was not available, the paper said).

To be sure, some players were wary, saying their acceptance depended on the dressing room dynamic not turning "weird" or "awkward."

But most comments went like this:

"Not everyone has to agree with it, but if someone in our locker room you were a friend with would come out, for me, personally, I wouldn't have a problem with it," center Steven Stamkos said. "He's still a teammate. He still has your back on the ice. That's just the way it is."

Stamkos is among NHL players participating in the You Can Play Project. His views were echoed by Teddy Purcell, who said, "We're a team, a family. We don't look at anybody different like that. Everybody is different."

I have long maintained that the very openly gay pro team athlete will be in the NHL, and these kinds of surveys reinforce my view.

Hat tip to Patrick Burke.