Guest Post: Can You Play? The NHL and Marketing to the LGBT Community

Contributed by Jennifer Rhorer/@jrho_jrho – check out our guest contributors page for beard and bio.

When Carolyn and Merrin sent out the call for guest contributors, I knew that I wanted to write something, but I couldn’t settle on what. After reading Carolyn’s series on how the NHL fails at marketing, I decided to look into just how LGBTQIA-friendly each NHL team is. Marketing to the LGBTQIA community is a focused, concrete thing that these organizations should be able to do.

The good new is, every team has had at least one player do a You Can Play video. Though as far as I can tell, no NHL player has done one since Landeskog completed the set in January 2014. It’s like everyone decided they checked off that box, so no one needs to bother again. Update: Andrew Ference and Ben Scrivens have since done YCP videos with the University of Alberta.

Every team publicly apologizes for/condemns players who have said something homophobic/biphobic/transphobic in public. (Hello, bare minimum of human decency!) But what do teams do to indicate they are actually, publicly welcoming of LGBTQIA fans (and our money) and potential future players?

To examine this, I set up a series of items that I consider demonstrate a LGBTQIA-friendly atmosphere and checked each team’s records on them. The items include LGBTQIA theme nights at arenas, participation in Pride parades, activity with LGBTQIA charities, and how the team structures their players’ family and partner organizations (typically known as WAGs, for “Wives and Girlfriends”). Here’s what I found.

LGBTQIA Theme Nights

Looking at everything through the 2014-15 season, we’re off to a slow start. Only 5 teams have ever had an LGBTQIA theme night: Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Philadelphia, and San Jose. Columbus seems to have had the first LGBTQIA theme night, as their 2013 calendar lists a “Fourth Annual Night Out,” which indicates their first theme night would have happened in the 2009-10 season. I can’t find any reference to any Columbus LGBTQIA theme nights since the 2013 season, though, so this seems to have been discontinued.

Detroit just had their first LGBTQIA theme night in April. (Side note: I’m not sure why this article says this is the 2nd ever NHL LGBT night. Four other teams has already hosted LGBT nights at this point.) Florida hosted their only LGBTQIA theme night in conjunction with Spirit Day in 2013. Philadelphia hosted their only LGBTQIA night in March 2010. San Jose, the only team besides the Blue Jackets to have multiple LGBTQIA theme nights, held their 5th Annual Equality Night in March.

In total, just five of 30 NHL teams (16.7%) have ever hosted an LGBTQIA theme night, and only two of 30 teams (6.7%) have hosted more than one. That’s only thirteen total games over six (well, five and a half) seasons. That’s depressing and makes me want to flip a table and walk right on out of here. Maybe there’s better news in the next section.

Pride Parades

EN: This section was updated to include information on the Bruins’ mascot appearance at the 2013 Boston Pride parade. — Updated again to include information on the Blue Jackets’ mascot appearance in 2014 and 2015 Columbus Pride Parades, and the 2014 appearance of the Pittsburgh mascot. — Updated again to include information on the Penguins’ mascot appearing in 2014 and 2015.

Having someone from your team (front office, players, coaches, ice girls, spirit squad, mascot, etc.) participate in a Pride parade is another way to publically indicate support for and acceptance of the LGBTQIA community (and involves less work than hosting a theme night).

Thanks to Brian Burke, it is better news. Ten of 30 teams (33.3%) have had one or more members of their organization participate in at least one Pride parade. Five of 30 teams (16.7%) have participated in multiple Pride parades. Burke has marched in several Pride parades as part of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization (2010-12) and as part of the Calgary Flames organization (201415). He marched with his son, Patrick, one of the founders of You Can Play, at this year’s Toronto Pride parade. He will be all or part of over one quarter of all NHL team Pride appearances by the end of this year. (His sixth appearance will be as Grand Marshall of the Calgary Pride parade in September.) His appearances ensure the Maple Leafs have attend the most Pride parades (six) of all NHL teams: Burke in 2010-12, goalie Ben Scrivens in 2013, forward Troy Bodie in 2014, and assistant GM Kyle Dubas in 2015. On the one hand, it’s great that one person is having such a noticeable and ongoing effect on making the NHL more LGBTQIA-friendly. On the other hand, it would be great if literally any other GM could get off their asses and sit on a rainbow float for a few hours next year.

Brent Sopel was the first player to attend a Pride parade, in 2010 as part of the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks. This started a tradition of the Blackhawks having a presence at the Chicago Pride parade each year they’ve won. While it’s great that Chicago has had a presence at three Pride parades (Sopel in 2010; mascot Tommy Hawk attended in 2013; and the Stanley Cup accompanied by Tommy Hawk in 2015), Sopel is the only Blackhawks player to have participated in a Pride parade.

The next NHL players to appear in Pride parades were Tommy Wingels of the San Jose Sharks and Manny Malhotra and Jason Garrison of the Vancouver Canucks, who marched in the 2012 Chicago and Vancouver Pride parades respectively. Malhotra and Garrison were accompanied by the Canucks’ mascot, Fin the Whale, which I believe is the first appearance of an NHL mascot in a Pride parade. These appearances mark the only Pride parade involvement for either team.

In 2013 Blades, the Boston Bruins’ mascot, marched in the Boston Pride parade. It seems that some players were planning make an appearance but were a bit busy with the Stanley Cup Finals. Also, as previously mentioned, Ben Scrivens, then of the Toronto Maple Leafs, marched in the Toronto Pride parade.

2014 brought first time Pride parade appearances for six players, four teams, and three mascots as well as the first appearance of team captains. For the Calgary Flames, captain Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan appeared in the Toronto Pride parade with Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs’ Troy Bodie. Sven Baertschi and Mikael Backlund marched in the Calgary Pride parade accompanied by the Flames’ mascot, Harvey the Hound. Edmonton Oilers’ captain Andrew Ference marched in the Edmonton Pride parade, marking the first appearance for the Oilers. (This was also the first time the captain of a professional North American sports team marched in a Pride parade.) Stinger, Columbus’ mascot, made the first appearance for the Blue Jackets in the Columbus Pride parade. The Penguins’ first appearance was courtesy of mascot Iceburgh who marched in the Pittsburgh Pride parade.

2015 had the largest number of teams participating in Pride parades, with six. As previously mentioned, Flames GM Brian Burke has already marched in Toronto with the Maple Leafs’ assistant GM Kyle Dubas, and the Blackhawks’ mascot, Tommy Hawk, accompanied the Stanley Cup in Chicago. Ben Scrivens of the Edmonton Oilers and Stinger of the Columbus Blue Jackets marched in their second Pride parades in Edmonton and Columbus, respectively, and Florida’s Panthers Patrol made the first Pride parade appearance for that organization.

So of the ten teams that have made a Pride parade appearance, we have the Toronto Maple Leafs at six, the Calgary Flames at three (will be four in September), the Chicago Blackhawks at three, the Edmonton Oilers and the Columbus Blue Jackets at two, and the San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Florida Panthers at one each for 21 (soon 22) Pride parade appearances in six years. Eleven players, six mascots, two front office personnel, and one spirit squad have been involved, and the only four of them who have done it more than once are goddamn Brian Burke, Ben Scrivens, Tommy Hawk, and Stinger.

Oh look. I am still depressed and want to flip a table and rage quit everything. I will say the good news here is that we are seeing an increasing number of teams participating in Pride parades as the years go on, unlike with LGBTQIA theme nights where the number of events seems to have stagnated.

Still, participating in a Pride parade does take a modicum of effort. You know what doesn’t? Just throwing money at something.

LGBTQIA Charities

The easiest way of all for an organization that makes millions of dollars to show support for a cause is just to give a bunch of money to an appropriate charity. No fuss, no muss, no going anywhere or doing anything. Super easy!

The numbers for this were a little harder to find documentation for than previous sections. I can confirm that no team’s foundation makes their donations to an LGBTQIA-focused charity a regular/publicized part of their work. Of course, due to the nature of some of these charities (e.g., working with child abuse victims, helping the homeless), they deal with causes that disproportionately affect the LGBTQIA community, so it’s not like they aren’t helping at all. They just aren’t helping us specifically.

So let’s start with what I have been able to find. Of the five teams who hosted LGBTQIA theme nights, four of them – Columbus, Detroit, Florida, and San Jose – definitely made donations to a local LGBTQIA charity as part of the theme night(s). I can’t find any reference to any charity for Philadelphia’s theme night, but donating money to a relevant charity is a very common part of all theme nights in the NHL. It wouldn’t surprise me if they did donate to an LGBTQIA charity; I just can’t prove it.

As for Pride parades, there’s usually an entry fee associated with marching in a Pride parade with that fee going towards parade costs and local LGBTQIA charities. So you might think that means all seven teams who participated in a parade did donate to LGBTQIA charities in a roundabout way. However, most of the Pride participation wasn’t done under the banner of those teams, it was done via other groups. All of Toronto’s appearances were with You Can Play, as were Mark Giordano, Sean Monahan, Andrew Ference, and Ben Scriven’s. Ference also marched with Camp fYrefly. Brent Sopel, Blackhawks’ mascot Tommy Hawk, and Tommy Wingels all marched with the Chicago Gay Hockey Association. Vancouver’s Pride appearance was part of a joint effort with You Can Play and the Vancouver Cutting Edges. Boston’s mascot marched with Boston Pride Hockey, and Columbus’ appeared with Gay Hockey Ohio in 2014 and the Columbus Ohio Gay Lesbian and Ally Hockey Association in 2015. Pittsburgh’s mascot marched with Pittsburgh Gay Hockey. This means that all donations came from those groups and not the teams.

Sven Baertschi and Mikael Backlund’s appearance was as part of the Calgary Sports & Entertainment Group, which owns the Flames. That counts as the Flames (indirectly) contributing to LGBTQIA charities.

Florida’s Panthers Patrol also seems to have appeared independently of other groups, so that’s another “Yes” for Florida contributing to LGBTQIA charities.

So for the easiest option (throwing money at something), there are still only five of 30 teams (16.7%) who have ever contributed to LGBTQIA charities and three of 30 teams (10%) who have contributed on more than one occasion. No team has contributed independently of a required (parade admission fee) payment or expected (theme night) event.

Nothing about this is making me feel any better about life. How’s your favorite team doing so far? Failing spectacularly? Yeah, mine too. On to the last topic.

Partners/WAGs

Since being an NHL player currently means you are a man who is or is presenting as straight, that means all current partners are wives or girlfriends. For a team to be truly accepting and welcoming of a non-straight player, they need to show they would be welcoming of whatever family he brings with him. That includes having an inclusive name for the group of spouses/partners/significant others of players no matter their gender.

Most teams don’t have an official name for the group of players significant others. I could only find 10 who do. Of those 10, Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, and Tampa Bay have inclusive names with the first three teams opting for Better Halves and Tampa calling their group the Family Association. Four of 10 (40%) isn’t terrible, but it’s still less than half.

Bottom Line

Holy shit, do we have a long way to go before the NHL is actually LGBTQIA friendly! Barely a quarter of the teams are worth congratulating.

A huge fuck you! to the following 17 teams who have not done a goddamn thing (53.3%):

Anaheim Ducks
Arizona Coyotes
Buffalo Sabres
Carolina Hurricanes
Dallas Stars
Los Angeles Kings
Minnesota Wild
Montreal Canadiens
Nashville Predators
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Ottawa Senators
St. Louis Blues
Washington Capitals
Winnipeg Jets

A large fuck you! to the following teams with the only thing going for them is an inclusive significant others group name (6.7%):

Colorado Avalanche
Tampa Bay Lightning

A you tried! to the following teams who did something once and never again (13.3%):

Boston Bruins
Philadelphia Flyers
Vancouver Canucks
Pittsburgh Penguins

And a thanks for doing something! and please keep doing things in the future (except maybe better)! to the following teams (26.7%):
Calgary Flames
Chicago Blackhawks
Columbus Blue Jackets
Detroit Red Wings
Edmonton Oilers
Florida Panthers
San Jose Sharks
Toronto Maple Leafs

What Can We Do?

How can we make this better? By telling our teams what we want to see. We want to see LGBTQIA theme nights. We want to see our team represented in Pride parades. We want them to be active in helping the LGBTQIA community in their area.

Also by thanking our teams when they do something great. Like dogs, they respond to positive reinforcement.

So holler at your team on twitter, email, Facebook, snail mail, whatever, and let them know that just telling us they’re LGBTQIA friendly isn’t enough. They need to show us. And when they do something right, they need to see that we noticed.

Note About Player Involvement

I really appreciate all the new information fans have shared that allowed me to update the post, so the overall picture isn’t quite as dire as what I first wrote. However, I won’t be incorporating updates on the really great work that individual players and their spouses are doing because I want this to stay focused on the work of NHL teams.

Tommy Wingels of the San Jose Sharks has acted as a member of You Can Play’s advisory board for many years.

Andrew Ference and Ben Scrivens of the Edmonton Oilers, along with Krista Ference and Jenny Scrivens (Goalie for the New York Riveters), are all very active in their support of Camp fYrefly. Andrew Ference was the keynote speaker at this year’s Mayor’s Pride Brunch in Support of Camp fYrefly, and his talk focused on what it means to be an ally. Both the Ferences and Scrivenses have made donations to fundraisers for Camp fYrefly.

[8/20/2015 Update: The Pride Parades section was updated to include information on the Boston Bruins’ mascot’s appearance in the 2013 Boston Pride parade.]

[8/21/2015 Update: The Pride Parades section was update to include information on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ mascot’s appearance in the 2014 and 2015 Columbus Pride Parades. A sentence was added to the Charities section regarding these appearances as well. Per an eye witness, the Pride section was updated to include an appearance for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ mascot, Pittsburgh.]

[8/22/2015 Update: Added some additional instances of involvement in LGBT organizations, as well as the Note on Player Involvement.]

Note: All this information was found through Google. If I missed something your team did, please let us know, so we can update the article! I want the results to be better than this.

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31 thoughts on “Guest Post: Can You Play? The NHL and Marketing to the LGBT Community

  1. My question here is why? And I don’t meant that in a jackass type manner. The NHL isn’t against LGBT, as far as I can see, why do they need to have a parade to show support or a themed night? Again, I’m not trying to be an ass here, just simply wanting to know the angle as to why. If you’re gay, bi, transexual etc. who’s telling you that the NHL is bad and doesn’t support your life decision and doesn’t want you in the arena?There needs to be a parade for LGBT NHL fans for marketing? I come from the South, and an LGBT parade in downtown Nashville per say could cause more bad than good. It’s sad, but true. Now of course the team supporting it is great, but having a ‘Nashville Predators LGBT Parade’ on Broadway could cause quite the stir. Again, the sad truth of world we live in.

    Fantastic article.

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    • I am also from the South, though I don’t see what that has to do with this. If the NHL purports that it’s LGBTQIA friendly, as it does, I want to see them back that up. I consider this stuff–donations especially–to be the bare minimum of actual support (as opposed to hot air). While they haven’t always had the best reasons for doing so, both the NBA and the NFL have made high profile donations to LGBTQIA charities (examples at http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304026804579411920863427210, http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/adcouncil/50081/, and http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/11375100/chris-kluwe-minnesota-vikings-reach-settlement-avert-lawsuit)

      In other news, Nashville has had a Pride parade since 1995 (go Nashville!).

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    • To start, it seems like there’s a bit of confusion here about Pride parades. These parades and festivals are a celebration of the LGBTQIA community and happen completely independently of any NHL involvement. I’m not suggesting any team host their own parade; I would just like to see more participation in parades that already exist and have been running for years.

      As to why I’m asking for this, for me, a lot of this is about the default stance in many parts of US society which is that LGBTQIA folk aren’t welcome, or we’re only welcome as long as we “act straight.” I can’t automatically assume that because an organization says/does nothing that they are actually welcoming and accepting of me. An extra step needs to be made, something explicit that tells me I’m going to feel comfortable in that environment.

      In a bigger picture sense, the more public displays of acceptance for the LGBTQIA community there are, the fewer incidences of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, etc we will see in society overall.

      And if you want to check out what looks to be a pretty great party, Nashville does have a Pride festival and has since 1988. http://www.nashvillepride.org/

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      • why does sexual identity have to be apart of everything? Can’t sports just be sports? Do I need to know what makes u wet or hard at night?

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      • Well, Bobby, sports are very rarely “just sports”. One of my favorite hockey movies is Miracle – the show down between the USSR and the USA wasn’t “just sports” it was a narrative for the entire political climate of the time.

        Not much has changed – businesses, like the NHL, and teams, like hockey teams, are a microcosm of society, and often are even less inclusive than your non-sports teams. Because we need society to reflect that it is OK to be LGBTQIA, the NHL must make the effort to do this too. Doing nothing means preserving the status quo, and currently, the status quo for a lot of the LGBTQIA community is extremely harmful to us, mentally or even physically.

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  2. A friend of mine took a pic with the Boston Bruins bear mascot at the Boston Pride parade a couple years ago – so they’ve definitely taken part! I recall reading that some players planned on marching, but the B’s had made it to the Cup final that same weekend – so it had to be either 2011 or 2013.

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  3. I’m all for the LGBT community and rights, but maybe the best way to get your point across isn’t to flip the bird at teams that haven’t done enough. Inactivity isn’t the same as shunning the LGBT community, and it makes you come across as entitled and pushy. You can catch more flies with honey, after all.

    I run a research lab that includes various races and sexual preferences. If a couple of people came in and demanded recognition for being black they wouldn’t have a job the next day. I would be especially upset if they wrote an article calling me racist and saying I shunned them for being black, despite no evidence of this. I get this doesn’t necessarily translate to a major sports team, but that’s how this article reads.

    Can GMs be doing more for the LGBT community? Yes. the status quo is awful, and particularly harmful to children.
    Is it possible they’re just trying to run a team, and race and sexuality haven’t even crossed their minds? I would say it’s quite probable.
    You might think it’s ignorance, but a sizable portion of sports fans/management go to the game to enjoy said game, and sociopolitical issues don’t factor in. If your response to this is to curse them for not acknowledging your community, maybe you don’t deserve a parade.

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    • Hi Jolene,

      Thanks for reading. As one of the people who edited Jen’s article, I approved her use of strong language. The point of this article is not just to lay out the facts – but to emphasize how these things make us feel. Jen (and myself – I identify openly as Bi) are both pretty angry by the results she found, and given that our blog has a more mature audience and frequently uses emphatic language, both of us found the language to be appropriate for the point she is trying to make.

      Just as actresses and actors are more dramatic on stage than they are in a one-on-one interview, blogs are often more pointed than the authors would be in one-on-one discussions. Clearly, this post has had an impact (and it sounds overall like a positive one), so no, I don’t think there is any need to Be Nicer when making her argument.

      Also, I think we 100% should hold GMs, marketers, etc responsible for the choices they make when marketing these teams. The LGBTQIA movement isn’t exactly new, after all, and most of the parades, charties, etc, mentioned have a ton of history and impact within their communities.

      Like

    • A lot of my expectations, and thus disappointment, here is due to how the NHL has promoted itself as being so LGBTQIA friendly. I wanted teams to have done something, not just payed lip service to the idea.

      Like Carolyn said, this is an accurate (if somewhat toned down) reflection of how upset and angry I was writing this article. There are a whole lot of curse words that didn’t make the final draft because I yelled them at my computer instead of typing them.

      Like

  4. I just thought LGBT people didn’t want to be looked at differently, but this is all suggesting the opposite of that. Every NHL team should have an African night, blonde hair blue eye night, republican night, democrat night. It just makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

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    • LGBTQ folks want to be treated the same as everyone else, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t aware that we form a particular community, one with its own culture, norms and values – partly because we’ve been excluded from or invisible to the rest of the world.

      Involvement in pride parades or donations to LGBTQ charities would be a way for NHL teams to tell us we’re a group they recognize as part of their fanbase and that we’re welcome to be part of that fanbase as ourselves. Very few of the groups you listed (other than Africans – did you mean African-Americans?) have ever been deliberately excluded from participation in sports before so don’t need that kind of explicit welcome.

      Like

  5. I thought this post was brilliant. The NHL may pay lip service to LGBTQIA+, but if they don’t follow through, it’s all hot air.

    Dear other commenters: Gay folks just want equal rights, man. I wanna hold hands with my girlfriend at a game without getting catcalled. I wanna use the restroom, as a woman with short hair, and not get suspicious glances at my chest before, okay yes, this one is acceptable in Our Feminine Space. The less-broad-minded fans would have me terrified to attend games if I were trans*.

    I am proud in context of this post to be a San Jose Sharks fan. But I still conduct myself cautiously at games, knowing I might get jumped in the parking lot if I don’t Straight It Up.

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  6. Iceburgh marched at least once here in Pittsburgh. We, when marching with Pittsburgh Gay Hockey, saw him in 2014 and can confirm this.

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  7. Not sure why my original comment didn’t show, but Iceburgh marched in Pittsburgh at least once. When we marched as Pittsburgh Gay Hockey in 2014, he was there and, I believe, leading the parade.

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  8. Don’t know if anyone’s mentioned this yet but Pittsburgh hosted a gay wedding at Consol just a few months ago. Don’t know if it was actually Penguins-affiliated though.

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    • That was my wedding! It actually was coordinated through the arena staff and not the Penguins, but they couldn’t have been more helpful and amazing. It was apparently the first gay wedding they’ve done, but they’ve only done around 5 total due to not being able to confirm the date more than 60 days out (yeah…it’s intense!). We did get to go on center ice for pictures and in the zambonis, all that jazz — it was cool. As an added bonus, just happened to run into Sidney Crosby on a flight to Pittsburgh and mentioned the wedding at his workplace and he said it was awesome. I feel like that’s maybe the best endorsement of support we could ever get, haha.

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  9. Thank you for this article. I have spent quite a bit of time recently trying to get some of my friends into hockey, and as they delve into it (particularly the social media aspect of it), they start mentioning that the NHL seems to be pretty LGBTQIA friendly from what they’re seeing. As you point out, this is an image that is purposefully crafted and maintained by the NHL. Some of my friends, seeing this, are now more likely to get into hockey and spend their money on it. If the NHL is gaining fans and making money off of this image, they darn well should be held accountable for their non-action.

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  10. When gay marriage was legalized in the States in the end of June the Bruins changed their twitter icon to a picture of their logo and that rainbow flag thing (the one that ppl used in their facebook profile pictures etc)!! I think they were the only team to do so.

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    • That’s great to hear!

      I did consider looking at whether or not teams had posted anything supportive of the decision on twitter, but by the time I started looking, I wasn’t able to go back that far on most teams’ feeds.

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  11. I remember the Sharks putting up a “Love Wins” tweet and icon the day marriage equality was ratified. Also, if it makes a difference, Andy Miele was in the Coyotes’ system when he joined the You Can Play board of directors (and Wingels was in the Sharks’, even though I guess they may still have been Miami of OH students at the time). I remember You Can Play sending a letter to the NHL at leadership awards’ time one year that pointed out that Wingels and Miele were openly supportive at a very vulnerable point in their NHL careers (both rookies, at a time when LGBT issues weren’t talked about in the NHL very much).

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  12. I don’t get why you think because of your sexual orientation you should be treated any different from any other sports fan who attends a hockey game. Fans are there to support their favorite teams. Period. End of story. And hockey teams are there to put a product on the ice and compete, thus providing entertainment for said fans (and to make money, after all they are a business too).

    As others have posted, if an NHL team is expected to host a night for the LGBT community then why not every other community too? Although you say you want equal rights it appears to me that you want special treatment. I have never heard of ANY other community asking for theme nights at NHL games or NHL support in their communities celebrations (in this case your parades).

    Fan are fans, we don’t care about another fan’s sexual orientation (or political preference or how much money they make or ), we care about supporting our hockey team and enjoying the game! if you are attending a hockey game I would hope you are there for the same reason and not to advance some kind of agenda.

    Oh and the Miracle on Ice was the Olympics, which was why international politics was involved (there is always politics involving the Olympics which is why some people don’t like them). There is no international politics in the NHL.

    I also don’t understand how the NHL is considered “less inclusive” as you put it. You buy a ticket and go to a game like anyone else and enjoy the game. How it that less inclusive? You have the same rights as anyone to attend sporting events, I have never seen anyone who bars LGBT community members from sporting events.

    In my opinion you are way off base here.

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  13. To be honest, having LGBTQIA nights and the like would feel very much like pandering to me, and not in a positive way. My team does this horrible “ladies’ night” thing and it’s a huge turn off, like because of our gender they have to woo us with pictures of high heels and the color pink, when I just want to be recognized as a serious fan and enjoy the game, because I’m a woman who happens to enjoy hockey for the sake of hockey. I’d definitely support more concrete actions, stuff like fundraising and more You Can Play style of awareness raising, but theme nights strike me as a horrible idea. I want as little, “hey, let’s market to those weird alien creatures they call homosexuals” as possible, because it’s going to be tone deaf at best and downright alienating and offensive at worst. But in the end, well, a hockey team exists to play hockey. Sure, they want as many fans as possible, but only in the sense that it makes them more money. Hoping for them to become some sort of progressive social justice machine is misguided. Individual players will grow and do better (I remember in his rookie year, the Av’s Nate MacKinnon took someone to task for their homophobia, telling them they were closed-minded on twitter) but overall, it’s a business, and they’re only going to do what’s best for their bottom line. Until and unless we convince them that the LGBTQIA market is a lucrative one, they’re not going to go out on a limb. I think things WILL get better, but not in the time frame many people are hoping, because it’s going to happen individual by individual, not all at once when some great manager becomes enlightened and decides to do something about it or something.

    Like

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