In an effort to promote the You Can Play Project to the member schools of the Colorado High School Activities Association, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog and a group of high school athletes from two area high schools released a video as part of the "You Can Play, Colorado!" initiative. In the video, released Wednesday, Landeskog appears with players from Mountain Vista High School (Highlands Ranch) and Regis Jesuit High School (Aurora).
Landeskog's participation means every team in the NHL has been represented in a You Can Play project in support of LGBT athletes, teammates and fans. The NHL is the only major sports league in North America to have every team participate in an effort specific to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community.
Patrick Burke, a director with the NHL's Department of Player Safety, founded You Can Play, along with Brian Kitts and Glenn Witman of GForce Sports, on March 4, 2012. The organization's goal is to ensure equality, respect and safety for all athletes without regard to sexual orientation. You Can Play aims to foster an environment where LGBT athletes feel welcome in the locker room and in the stands.
"The NHL and the NHLPA [are] coming together and saying this is something from an ownership side, from a management side, from a player side, that we all believe that players and coaches and management and fans who are LGBT should be welcomed and feel safe and included in our arenas and our communities," Burke said.
Burke, the son of Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke, was inspired to start You Can Play following the death of his younger brother, Brendan, who was killed in a car accident in February 2010. Brendan, a student manager for the Miami University Redhawks hockey team, announced he was gay in 2009 and actively worked to eliminate homophobia in hockey.
The NHL's official partnership with You Can Play includes a significant commitment to education and training for teams, players, media and fans plus the production and broadcast of more public-service announcements.