MONTREAL - Max Domi and Georges Laraque have both made their support for the LGBTQ+ community well-known on many occasions, and made another such statement by marching in Montreal's 36th annual Pride parade on Sunday.
It was the first time Domi took part in the event in the city since joining the Canadiens via trade last summer, and the Habs' leading scorer in 2018-19 said he had an absolute blast.
"It's great, it's awesome. Everyone seems to be happy and having fun," beamed Domi, who boasted a career-high 28 goals and 72 points last season. "It's nice and hot out. I got stuck with a black shirt here somehow so I'm leaking. But no, it's fun. It's great."
Domi and Laraque led a Canadiens contingent also featuring team employees who all marched alongside members and athletes from the Canadian Olympic Committee, members of You Can Play - an organization promoting equality and inclusion in sports regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity - and staff from the NHL's Montreal offices.
Last season, Domi appeared on Radio-Canada's Tout le monde en parle where he talked about his support for the community, and he doubled down on his feelings on Sunday afternoon.
"As a guy who's currently playing in the NHL - and I'm sure Georges would echo the same thing - we welcome them with open arms. If you can play, you can play, and hockey is for everyone. That's why we're here today, to really show that and show our support. For whoever else is out there who is a little bit worried or uncertain about something, know that you have two guys right here who have your back. [Laraque is] a good guy to have your back, that's for sure," cracked Domi. "It's where the world is going, it's part of it. We're living in a day where everyone's included. It's a privilege to be able to live in this era, so we're just encouraging everyone to feel comfortable in their own skin."
For his part, Laraque believes that LGBTQ+ athletes who participate in sports, as well as allies such as Domi, can have a huge impact on encouraging those who aren't sure whether they too can play.
"Love is love," proclaimed Laraque, a former NHL enforcer with 695 games of NHL experience with the Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Habs. "You're their role model, and you went through what they went through. And then you showed them and you're giving them hope. That's why it's so important that more and more of you out there show that you're no different than everybody else. You're competing. You made it. You became a professional athlete just like we did. We have to sweat hard to be there. So did you. So in supporting that, a lot of kids could lead by example by following your lead. That's why we're here. We're supporting you, and the fact that you guys are doing it, it's awesome."
The Canadiens' participation in Pride is part of the team's and the NHL's larger efforts at promoting respect and equality in hockey for the LGBTQ+ community. For the fourth year in a row, the Habs will dedicate a game at the Bell Centre in February to the theme of inclusion and diversity.
For more information on the Canadiens' involvement in the community, click here.
For more information on You Can Play, click here.