CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames will celebrate the LGBTQ community by participating in the 27th annual Pride Parade here Sunday.
"It's definitely something you want to be involved with, for sure," center Sean Monahan said Thursday. "We accept everyone the same way. It's an important thing we do. The Flames are a huge part of Calgary, and it's great that way, and the community does a lot for us, supporting us in everything we do.
"To be there for all situations and circumstances and to support different groups, we're happy to do that. It's cool. It's definitely an experience that you're happy to be a part of. To support it and be there and go through it is cool."
Flames captain Mark Giordano, forwards Matt Stajan and Kris Versteeg, and goaltender Eddie Lack will join Monahan in the parade. Drea Esposito, Justyn Gurney and Murphy Stratton of the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, Garrett McIntosh of the Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League, and Jon Cornish, who played running back for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League from 2007-15, will also show support for LGBTQ by marching.
"I think in society in general inclusiveness has grown, and in sports growing up and learning more about inclusiveness has been huge," said Giordano, who previously marched with Monahan in Pride parades in Calgary and Toronto. "As athletes, we use the platform because it's a good way to send messages like this, especially to children growing up.
"In my time in the NHL and even coming up through junior, we've learned a lot when it comes to different groups and supporting them, and the NHL is right up there with any league in the world."
The Flames have been active participants in raising the issue of inclusiveness, specifically by supporting You Can Play, a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting homophobia in sports.
You Can Play was co-founded by Patrick Burke, NHL director of player safety and son of Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke. Patrick's brother, Brendan, died in a car accident Feb. 5, 2010, shortly after becoming one of the first to come out as gay in college sports.
It's important, Giordano said, to use platforms like the Pride Parade to promote inclusiveness on all levels.
"I think including everyone in society is a big thing, and whenever it comes to sports … like the You Can Play program … we can show support," he said. "We want to let the world know that we support this group, and to march in the parade, we've done it before, it's a good thing for NHL players to get involved in."