Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand said he is confident a gay player would be accepted in the NHL if one decided to come out.
"Guys would accept it, no question," Marchand told ESPN.com in an interview published Tuesday. "We're a team in the [locker] room and a family. It doesn't matter what different beliefs guys have, or where they come from, or whatever the case may be. Guys would accept it.
"Again, in the room, we're a family. That's the way it is on a hockey team, and that's the way it will always be. It's bound to happen at some point, and when it does it will be accepted."
Marchand stood up for the gay community on Twitter on Dec. 29 when he called out a user who reportedly used a homophobic slur. That user's tweet has since been deleted.
"This derogatory statement is offensive to so many people around the world, [you're] the kind of kid parents are ashamed of," Marchand responded.
"I want to stand up for what I believe in, and I don't think it's right when people say things or bash people because of their sexual orientation," Marchand said. "I have friends who are in gay relationships and I don't think it's right for people to be against that. Everyone is allowed to find love whatever way that is, so I felt like that was a time to say something, especially nowadays.
"We're in 2017, and things are a lot different than they were 100 years ago. We're all evolving to be equal, and that's the way things should be."
The NHL and the NHL Players' Association formed a groundbreaking partnership with the You Can Play Project in April 2013. You Can Play is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and aims to challenge the culture of locker rooms by focusing on an athlete's skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.
The NHL's official youth development program is Hockey is for Everyone, which provides support and unique programing to non-profit youth hockey organizations across North America that are committed to offering children of all backgrounds an opportunity to play hockey. In February, the NHL will celebrate Hockey is for Everyone Month.