The NHL is teaming up with the You Can Play project to create more visibility for LGBTQ inclusion in the league and build a list of team ambassadors that creates a web of support reaching all 30 team locker rooms.
The NHL issued this statement on Wednesday:
“In support of their longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion in hockey, the National Hockey League, the League’s Member Clubs and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) will spotlight a variety of community-related initiatives for Hockey Is For Everyone™ month. Every day throughout February, Hockey Is For Everyone activities will focus awareness on such areas as LGBTQ; ethnicity and gender equality; socio-economic status and those with disabilities.”
To that end, there will be You Can Play nights at games throughout the month of February. Plus, the league has compiled a list of You Can Play ambassadors that represents every team in the league. The list gives LGBTQ people on each team a player they can reach out to if they need support.
One notable ambassador is Andrew Shaw of the Montreal Canadiens. You may remember Shaw was suspended by the Chicago Blackhawks last spring after being caught yelling a gay slur during a game.
It’s pretty fantastic that Shaw has come full circle and now stands out with open arms hoping any teammates know they have a place to go if they need it.
You can see the list of all the team ambassadors working with You Can Play below.
The hockey world continues to be an enigma for LGBTQ athletes. While no league has done more to show an LGBTQ-inclusive face than the NHL (MLB and NBA can certainly claim to have done as much), there has never been a current or former NHL player who has come out publicly; Every other major pro league in North America has at least two.
This month of heightened visibility will hopefully be comfort to those who are still afraid in the league, and hopefully they will now feel they have a place in their locker room to go for support.
Anaheim Ducks -- Ryan Kesler
Arizona Coyotes -- Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Boston Bruins -- Brad Marchand
Buffalo Sabres -- Anders Nilsson
Carolina Hurricanes -- Eddie Lack
Calgary Flames -- Matt Stajan
Chicago Blackhawks -- Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Colorado Avalanche -- Gabriel Landeskog
Columbus Blue Jackets -- Scott Hartnell
Dallas Stars -- Curtis McKenzie
Detroit Red Wings -- Frans Nielsen
Edmonton Oilers -- Matt Hendricks
Florida Panthers -- Shawn Thornton
Los Angeles Kings -- Dustin Brown
Minnesota Wild -- Charlie Coyle
Montreal Canadiens -- Andrew Shaw
Nashville Predators -- Colin Wilson
New Jersey Devils -- Andy Greene
New York Islanders -- Casey Cizikas
New York Rangers -- Mats Zuccarello
Ottawa Senators -- Dion Phaneuf
Philadelphia Flyers -- Claude Giroux
Pittsburgh Penguins -- Chris Kunitz
San Jose Sharks -- Chris Tierney
St. Louis Blues -- David Perron
Tampa Bay Lightning -- Brian Boyle
Toronto Maple Leafs -- James van Riemsdyk
Vancouver Canucks -- Henrik Sedin
Washington Capitals -- Braden Holtby
Winnipeg Jets -- Jacob Trouba