BY BRANDON MURPHY
For one month during the regular season, the NHL will host Hockey Is For Everyone Month.
During February, the National Hockey League will spotlight a variety of activities in order to highlight their support of the LGBTQ communities. This campaign is in partnership with the You Can Play Project.
Jillian Svensson, Vice-President of development and operations of the You Can Play Project, works directly with the NHL and NHLPA.
“Our mission is to be advocates for the community in sports, advocates for the athletes, coaches and fans,” says Jillian. “We want to make sure that sports are a place where your sexual orientation doesn’t matter. It’s all about skill, work ethic and passion.”
This season, the NHL teams named one player from each team to be the You Can Play ambassador. Players like James and Trevor VanRiemsdyk were selected for Toronto and Chicago. Andrew Shaw, who was suspended for one game last year for using a homophobic slur, was chosen to be the Montreal Canadiens ambassador.
“Andrew volunteered, he wanted to be an ambassador and he was very passionate about it. He wasn’t doing this for himself.”
These ambassadors were selected to be leaders not only in the community, but in the locker room. Their goal is to promote equality, diversity and inclusion. Each team will also select one home game as their You Can Play Night, “celebrating members of the local LGBTQ community with ceremonial puck drops, anthem singers, features on hometown heroes, and Pride Tape will be used during pregame warm up.” Fans were also able to purchase Pride Tape.
These months are huge for LGQBT communities and gender/race equality as a whole due to the massive waves of support and awareness. The impact on the athletes and young players is truly unmeasurable. You can’t go anywhere without seeing pictures and videos on social media.
“When you see someone in a visible way, it helps with comfort. It helps with future generations, young players coming up through the ranks; they see the Pride Nights, the Pride Tape, the PSAs and everything else. The message is very clear, bad behaviour and language will not be tolerated.”
The project hopes people will get behind the movement in the next years and realize that everyone is entitled to play the sport they love regardless of their skin colour, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Hockey is for everyone.
Visit their website at: http://www.youcanplayproject.org/