February is Hockey is for Everyone month in the NHL, and this year the league is taking another great step forward for LGBTQ awareness.
The campaign, which also includes awareness for ethnicity and gender equality, socio-economic status, and people with disabilities, is conducted in partnership with the You Can Play Project, a nonprofit committed to supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting homophobia in sports. The campaign marks the first time the NHL, NHLPA, and all 30 teams have collaborated to encourage teamwork, inclusiveness, and diversity in hockey at all levels daily for an entire calendar month.
Each team has designated a player to be their You Can Play ambassador. Cyd Zeigler of Outsports reports that the list gives LGBTQ people on each team a player they can reach out to if they need support. For the Canucks, that player will be someone who exudes professionalism and respect: Henrik Sedin.
A couple of former Canucks have been named ambassadors for their new teams, including Eddie Lack (Carolina) and Ryan Kesler (Anaheim).
“Our Clubs, our players, and our fans are committed to welcoming everyone to hockey,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said through a media release. “While the NHL family strives for diversity and inclusiveness all year long, February is Hockey Is For Everyone month, which will highlight, on a daily basis, the many ways our sport brings greater attention, heightened awareness and broader opportunities.”
Every NHL team will host an awareness night honouring and recognizing hockey players of all ages from diverse backgrounds.
The Canucks appear set to host a You Can Play night on February 28 when they play the Detroit Red Wings. The evening will celebrate members of the LGBTQ community with ceremonial puck drops, anthem singers, features on hometown heroes, and Pride Tape will be used during pregame warm-up.
Hockey Night in Canada will dedicate their February 11th broadcast to Hockey is for Everyone.
“Players are proud to partner with You Can Play and the NHL on the Hockey is for Everyone campaign this month,” said Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA special assistant to the executive director. “The initiatives and conversations taking place in February will continue to promote inclusion and diversity in our game and help ensure that hockey truly is for everyone.”