A USA Today survey shows 34 of 35 NHL players say they would accept an openly gay teammate.
Thirty-five players were asked at the NHL/NHLPA media tour last week in Toronto, and only one said they would not welcome a gay player into the locker room.
“I’m not surprised by that,” Flames president Brian Burke told USA Today. “I’m disappointed by the one player. I don’t think our players have an issue with gay players. I think the first player to come out is going to find an unbelievably welcome reception. I think my generation has a bigger problem than their generation when it comes views on the gay community.”
In 2013, the NHL began a partnership with advocacy organization You Can Play, focused on equality and respect for all players regardless of their sexual orientation. The organization was co-founded by Burke's son, Patrick, and Burke sits on the advisory board. The organization came about in part due to the death of Brian Burke's late son Brendan, who came out as gay in 2009 as a hockey manager at Miami (Ohio) and died in a car accident in 2010.
“You Can Play has helped immensely in this area,” Brian Burke said. “When we shot the first set of You Can Play (promotional) videos, guys were stopping me at rinks and saying, “Why didn’t you ask me?” Guys were mad. Guys were insulted that we didn’t ask them. That’s when I thought, ‘Wow, we are farther ahead than I thought.”
Full results of USA Today's survey can be found here.
- Jeremy Woo