The Manchester Monarchs, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, have partnered with You Can Play Project to help ensure equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.
Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, right wing Brandon Kozun, left wing Richard Clune, defenseman Jordan Hill and right wing Stefan Legein participated in the Monarchs You Can Play Project’s public service announcement that debuted today.
The You Can Play Project seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.
“I think there is enough discrimination in the world, we don’t need to discriminate in sports,” explained Hill. “I am proud to support the right for everybody to be able to play if they can play.”
You Can Play Project launched their first PSA during the Boston Bruins/New York Rangers game on NBC on Mar. 4, 2012. Players throughout the National Hockey League have joined the You Can Play Project and have lent their voice to the campaign with their own “If You Can Play, You Can Play” videos.
“I wanted to be a part of the project because I believe that athletes and people in general should not be discriminated against based on their sexual preference,” said Clune. “If my small part in this project can give a gay athlete the strength to pursue their dream without feeling judged, then I’m happy to do it.”
Co-founder Patrick Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, appeared in the debut PSA with his father, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke. Patrick is the older brother of Brendan Burke, who made headlines for being an openly gay equipment manager for the Miami University Riverhawks in 2009. Brendan died tragically in an auto accident in 2010, and Patrick carries on his brother’s legacy and vision with the You Can Play Project.
“We are very grateful to the Manchester Monarchs organization for their tremendous support of the You Can Play Project,” expressed Patrick Burke. “We would like to especially thank the players who were willing to take a stand to make sports safer for LGBT athletes, coaches and fans. Fans of both the Monarchs and their parent Los Angeles Kings should be excited by the courage, leadership and unity shown by their prospects. This attitude of teamwork and inclusiveness will serve the Monarchs and Kings well in future seasons.
“Manchester has always been a first class organization on and off the ice, and this PSA continues that legacy. We hope fans of the Monarchs will join their players (and Max) in making The Jungle a safe space for LGBT athletes and fans.”
The project plans to produce a playbook for coaches, players, members of the news media and administrators at all age levels to create a non-threatening environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes.
For more information on You Can Play, visit www.YouCanPlay.org.