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FEATURE: Pride Night Creates Role Models

You Can Play Ambassadors and married couple, Anya and Madison Packer, explained to Jessica Kent why transparency and being 'out' as athletes is so important

by Jessica Kent / Special to

Anya and Madison Packer have chosen to live a very open and forward life as a same-sex married couple. Neither of them recall having role-models they could relate to growing up, so both understand first hand why that transparency is so important.

Video: PRIDE NIGHT | Anya and Madison Packer

"We have people come up to us all the time and talk about how seeing us be vocal and out has helped them tell their story or share with their parents that they're a member of the LGBTQ+ community, so it's important for younger generations to see it's okay," explained Madison, Metropolitan Riveters forward.

Which is exactly the goal of special game nights, like Devils' Pride Night.

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FEATURE: Pride Night Shines Light on 'Darkest Place in the Closet'

Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality, talks to Jessica Kent about how meaningful Pride Night is to young LGBTQ members and how much work still needs to be done

by Jessica Kent /

In his five years with Garden State Equality, Christian Fuscarino has seen many remarkable things: laws and legislation around the LGBTQ community changed, countless lives positively impacted, and the New Jersey Devils continued support by sporting the rainbow flag on Pride Night.

Video: PRIDE NIGHT | Christian Fuscarino

"It means the world to us because for so long the world of sports was the deepest darkest place in the closet for LGBTQ people," Fuscarino explained. "The whole night is packed with breaking barriers."

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FEATURE: More Tape on Sticks, Means More Messages

Jeff McLean, co-creator of Pride Tape, talks about how the New Jersey Devils and NHL played a major role in the success of the rainbow hockey tape

by Jessica Kent / Special to

"More tape on more sticks means more messages."

When Jeff McLean co-created Pride Tape five years ago from an office in Edmonton, Alberta, never did he expect it to have the global reach it does now.

Players in all 31 hockey clubs in the league now use the rainbow hockey tape to wrap their sticks for warm-up during NHL Pride Night, but it has gone well beyond pro-sports and the shorelines of North America.

Video: PRIDE NIGHT | Jeff McLean from Pride Tape

"[When we came up with the idea] we decided if one player used the tape and another player saw that and felt accepted and like they wanted to stay in the game, we would be happy with that," McLean explained about his early intentions.

The meaning of Pride Tape is simple - it represents inclusivity. McLean says after conducting research, he and his team noticed homophobic language spiked during sporting events.

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PODCAST: NHL Social Media Strategy and Teenagers?

The NHL's Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Heidi Browning joins our Speak of the Devils podcast presented by RWJBarnabas Health

by Jessica Kent / Special to

Heidi Browning didn't grow up in an NHL city, nor was hockey part of her childhood, but she now lives and breathes the sport. Browning has one of the most powerful positions in the NHL - Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer - and it's her mission to grow the game's audience by every demographic.

"We spend a lot of time in focus groups and talking to casual fans to understand what would make them want to watch more hockey," she said as she spoke about her role.

Browning is in charge of the type of content that is posted on the NHL's social media platforms, amongst many other responsibilities. But it's Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok (to name a few) that unites and engages fans around the world, and Browning recognizes that - her social media mantra is, "humans are greater than highlights."

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HBSE PROFILE: Jillian Frechette

Devils Marketing Head Jillian Frechette talks pandemic impact, Social Media and THOSE green jerseys

by Jessica Kent / Special to

If you see a Devils' fan rocking the new Reverse Retro jersey around town, Jillian Frechette and her team spent over a year designing that in collaboration with their NHL partners at adidas and Devils' Hall of Fame Goaltender Martin Brodeur. Odds are you probably have seen a lot of them as it was one of the first Reverse Retro jerseys in the League to sell out.  

"That was a wonderful project… we think about everything from the socks to the helmets to the crest," she explained.

Video: GENDER EQUALITY | Jillian Frechette

Frechette is the Senior Vice President of Marketing - an all-encompassing job that sees her managing a big team of nearly 40… all from a distance.

"It's probably one of the bigger challenges I've had [in my career]."

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HBSE PROFILE: Natasha Moody

Natasha Moody credits her mentors and sports for where she is today

by Jessica Kent / Special to

Natasha Moody always dreamed of playing in the WNBA. 

"But my skills told me that I wasn't [good enough]," she said laughing.

So she traded her sneakers for dress shoes and is now playing on a different team - a corporate one. Moody is the Senior Vice President of Business Operations and says the lessons she learned on the court has translated to the office.

Video: GENDER EQUALITY | Natasha Moody

"To play on a team makes you learn how to be a team mate. You have to learn how to lose, accept it, shake it off and move forward."

Moody credits her many mentors growing up for her successful career. The NHL is the third professional sports league she's worked for, and cites the many people who have helped her along the way were both women and men.

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HBSE PROFILE: Donna Daniels

Prudential Center GM, Donna Daniels, speaks to Jessica Kent about how representation matters because she knows young women are watching

by Jessica Kent / Special to

Donna Daniels is only one of a handful of women running the operations of arenas around the country. It's a big job and one that wouldn't have surprised her 10-year-old self if you told her she'd be the Executive Vice President and General Manager of a world-class venue one day.

"It was my dream to work in sports, and more specifically I wanted to walk into Madison Square Garden every day to work, and I was fortunate to be able to do that after 9 months of living in the city," she explained.

Video: GENDER EQUALITY | Donna Daniels

Daniels started her career in the NBA. For 25 years she watched the New York Knicks on the court - but it wasn't the monumental wins or unforgettable moments that she's most proud of. Launching the WNBA in 1996 is a career highlight for her.

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HBSE PROFILE: Kate Madigan, Hockey Operations

Devils Kate Madigan explains how she found her voice and learned to speak up while working alongside GM Tom Fitzgerald and his staff

by Jessica Kent / Special to

"If you can see it, you can be it."

That's Kate Madigan's mindset as she paves the way for young women everywhere. Madigan is the Executive Director of Hockey Management and Operations with the Devils Organization - a role very few women have.

"I think the first time I said, 'I want to be a [hockey] General Manager one day', people were like 'this girl is crazy!" Madigan said when asked if she always aspired to work in sports. "I was in high school and that didn't exist at that time so it did seem crazy - now we see Kim Ng [as the GM] at the Marlins, so things are moving up, but at that time it was a bit of a dream."

Video: GENDER EQUALITY | Kate Madigan

Madigan grew up in Boston "around the game". Her dad was a scout for the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is now the men's hockey head coach at Northeastern University. She credits her upbringing around the rink for her career in hockey now.

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PODCAST: Ross recalls how she proved herself "in a man's world"

The first female NHL play-by-play announcer Sherry Ross joins Matt Loughlin and Jessica Kent on Speak of the Devils presented by RWJ Barnabas Health

by Jessica Kent / Special to

Pioneer. Barrier breaker. Legend. Woman.

These are just some of the words that describe who Sherry Ross is.

Devils fans would recognize her voice - she was not only the Devils' play-by-play announcer in the mid-90s, then from 2007-2017, but the first woman to broadcast a professional male sports team.

Video: Sherry Ross on Progress in Hockey

 "If I had any impact in cracking the glass ceiling, I'm very proud of what I've did," Ross said on the Speak of the Devils podcast. "I didn't do it to be the first woman but the fact that I was, I'm proud of that and I hope there's many more that will follow."

Ross says she "fell into" her broadcast roll. She started out as sports reporter in the late 70s, which in itself had a continuous row of hoops to jump through.

Tweet from @NJDevils: ���Those women were pioneers for me. I just went, ���I can do this.������Hear from Sherry Ross, the first woman to call play-by-play in the NHL, and learn how she got involved in hockey. #GenderEqualityMonth | @nhl

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Hockey Helps the Homeless event has record year in Edmonton

Oilers Alumni, volunteers and participants help make this year's event the best yet with $230,000 raised

by Jessica Kent /

As Canadians, there are many things that unite us coast to coast. The game of hockey is one of them. Whether you play it, watch it, or live for it, hockey keeps us warm on those bitter-cold winter nights, and for the past two decades, hockey has been helping the homeless.

"In Canada hockey is the game and anytime you can lace up your skates and head out on the rink with two guys who played in the NHL, whether it be our alumni or others for charity, it's a winning combo," said Ron Low, Oilers Alumni and Honorary Chair for Hockey Helps the Homeless. 

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