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Hockey Is For Everyone

Kings celebrate LGBTQ community

Robbie Rogers of LA Galaxy, first openly gay man in major pro sports, drops puck on Pride Night

by Forrest Lee / Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- As much as he likes the Los Angeles Kings, Robbie Rogers didn't grow up a hockey fan.

"I was joking with some of the players that my experience with hockey was watching 'The Mighty Ducks' when I was younger," said Rogers, who plays for the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer. "My brother and I played street hockey ... but I met a bunch of these guys when we won the championship and they won the championship and we all went to the White House to meet [President] Obama, and I was really impressed with so many of them."

That was in 2015, when Rogers and the Galaxy, along with the Kings were honored together by the president. The Galaxy won the MLS Cup in 2014, when the Kings won the Stanley Cup.

It was a significant celebration, because Rogers was the first openly gay man to compete in a major professional sport; he came out in 2012.

On Thursday, Rogers was a major participant with the Kings and their Pride Night festivities, part of the NHL's Hockey Is For Everyone initiative. The celebration took place before and during the Kings' 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center on Thursday.

Rogers dropped the ceremonial first puck between Kings captain Anze Kopitar and Coyotes captain Shane Doan. After that, Rogers interacted with fans, posed for photos, signed autographs and spoke to a group of students.

Video: ARI@LAK: Robbie Rogers drops puck on Pride Night

He was a bit overwhelmed by it all.

"It's been really amazing," Rogers said. "The fans, I've been taking pictures with people. It's been really cool to see the Pride colors. Just shaking hands with the two captains before the game and just being able to be here in Los Angeles, obviously this is my hometown, and to be able to drop the puck is really cool."

TV personality Lisa Vanderpump, who attended her first hockey game, also was there. Dr. Drew Pinsky sang the national anthem. Jeff Archibald, a gay marine and recreational ice hockey player, was honored as the Hero of the Game.

Vanderpump, who stars in "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and also is a restaurateur, joked she had no idea of the temperature at Staples Center.

"I felt so cold up in here I thought I was back in England," said Vanderpump, a former London resident, before turning serious.

"I was approached [to attend] because I'm a huge advocate for the LGBTQ community and equal rights. I'm a spokesman for GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders), so I work very closely with the LGBTQ community. So I was asked to come chuck the puck, so to speak."

Hockey Is For Everyone is conducted in partnership with the You Can Play Project, a nonprofit initiative that supports the LGBTQ community and fights homophobia in sports.

Kings forwards Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson were featured as spokesmen for the campaign in in-arena video messages Thursday. Several Kings players used rainbow stick tape during warmups in support of You Can Play.

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