During the month of February, the National Hockey League is promoting Hockey Is For Everyone through all 31 of its teams. To officially announce the campaign, the NHL used a photo of Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby.
The tweet, which received nearly 400 retweets, shows the Holtbeast smiling as he sports a shirt designed with a rainbow-colored NHL logo.
— NHL (@NHL) February 1, 2018
Holtby was named the Caps’ Hockey Is For Everyone ambassador last year by the NHL and will do the same this year. The Vezina Trophy winner also raised thousands of dollars for You Can Play after wearing a custom-designed mask during last season’s Hockey Is For Everyone month. For his dedication to the cause, Holtby received the DC Pride Ally Award in May 2017 for his public support.
While many Caps fans loved the photo, one contributor to VICE pointed out obvious recent hypocrisy between the league’s stated goal and its choice on who to perform at the All-Star Game.
No one is buying this. You just had kid rock perform.
— Andy Verderosa (@andyverderosa) February 1, 2018
Another fan also made another point worth considering.
Four days ago, you had Kid Rock perform at a league event. Now you’re using a straight white man to celebrate diversity in hockey. Actions speak louder than words, @NHL.
— Jacob @ PTPHockey (@PTPJacob) February 1, 2018
But the league’s embrace of HIFE has exposed many fans to different cultures, such as the Capitals embrace of Fatima Al Ali last season, and inspired more teams to fight back against homophobia and discrimination. On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Penguins dressed down a fan after he showed disgust in Matt Murray being the team’s Hockey Is For Everyone ambassador.
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) February 2, 2018
The NHL is also selling rainbow-colored gear for each team as well as LOVE shirts which is spelled out with rainbow tape.
The Capitals gear can be purchased here.
Thursday, the NHL also announced their HIFE ambassadors from every team, including eight others.
Each NHL club has designated one player to be a Hockey Is For Everyone Ambassador, which means being a leader in the locker room and in the community on diversity, equality and inclusion. These players have agreed to lead the way in their markets and be an advocate for underrepresented, marginalized or disadvantaged communities; some will be featured in stories and public service announcements throughout the month.
The 31 Player Ambassadors will be joined by two NHL Officials — Shandor Alphonso and Dave Jackson — and six special ambassadors: SFC. Joseph Bowser, Harrison Browne, Angela James, Josh Pauls, Fred Sasakamoose and Harnarayan Singh.
Here are the HIFE ambassadors for each club:
Anaheim Ducks — Corey Perry
Arizona Coyotes — Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Boston Bruins — Brad Marchand
Buffalo Sabres — Ryan O’Reilly
Carolina Hurricanes — Trevor van Riemsdyk
Columbus Blue Jackets — Seth Jones
Calgary Flames — Matt Stajan
Chicago Blackhawks — Tommy Wingels
Colorado Avalanche — Gabriel Landeskog
Dallas Stars — Tyler Seguin
Detroit Red Wings — Justin Abdelkader
Edmonton Oilers — Jujhar Khaira
Florida Panthers — Aaron Ekblad
Los Angeles Kings — Dustin Brown
Minnesota Wild — Charlie Coyle
Montreal Canadiens — Andrew Shaw
Nashville Predators — Kyle Turris
New Jersey Devils — Andy Greene
New York Islanders — Casey Cizikas
New York Rangers — Mats Zuccarello
Ottawa Senators — Dion Phaneuf
Philadelphia Flyers — Claude Giroux
Pittsburgh Penguins — Matt Murray
San Jose Sharks — Chris Tierney
St. Louis Blues — Carter Hutton
Tampa Bay Lightning — Alex Killorn
Toronto Maple Leafs — James van Riemsdyk
Vancouver Canucks — Henrik Sedin
Vegas Golden Knights — Pierre-Édouard Bellemare
Washington Capitals — Braden Holtby
Winnipeg Jets — Jacob Trouba
Here are the special ambassadors
An NHL linesman since 2014, Alphonso, of Trinidad-Jamaican descent, was an accomplished Junior hockey and University hockey player. Along with his role model Jay Sharrers, he is paving the way for future referees of color.
The longest-tenured NHL referee, having worked more than 1,500 games, Jackson brings a strong commitment to equality, inclusion and respect on the ice and with the NHL Officials Association, which he joined in 1989.
SFC. Joseph Bowser
A 14-year military veteran and Staff Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, Bowsen is a founding member of USA Warriors, an ice hockey program for wounded veterans. For Bowser and other warriors, hockey is playing a major role in their recovery, both physically and emotionally.
Browne plays in the National Women’s Hockey League, and is the first openly transgender person in professional hockey. Browne is a trailblazer for the LGBTQ community, helping form the first-ever transgender policy in professional sports, supporting transmen and transwomen in their athletic participation.
Widely considered the first superstar of modern women’s hockey, James, who is multiracial and a pioneer for LGBTQ people in sports, began her hockey career playing with and against boys before her talents and efforts helped women’s hockey flourish. James is one of the first females inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame (2008), Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (2009) and the Hockey Hall of Fame (2010).
Pauls is the captain of the U.S. National Sled team who will be competing at the 2018 Paralympics. Though he had both legs amputated as an infant, Pauls grew up with dreams of becoming the first NHL goalie with no legs. Pauls joined the New York Rangers Junior Sled Hockey club at age 10, and by age 17 had won the gold medal in the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
The NHL’s first Canadian Indigenous player, Sasakamoose was appointed to the prestigious Order of Canada in 2017. A residential school survivor who was born in Whitefish Lake, Saskatchewan (now Big River First Nation), he devotes his time to working with Indigenous youth and trying to help improve his community through sports.
The first-ever Sikh to do play-by-play of an NHL game in Punjabi and English, Singh, who has broadcast NHL games for a decade, is making the sport he loves more accessible to new Canadians and is a trailblazer for those who wish to work in hockey.
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