01/08/2014 03:35 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

NHL Becomes First North American Sports League To Have All Teams Support LGBT Athletes And Fans


With the release of a new PSA from the captain of the Colorado Avalanche hockey team, the NHL has become the first sports league in North America to support gay rights across the board.

According to a statement released by the You Can Play Project, members from all teams in the National Hockey League have voiced their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) athletes and fans.

"Having full and, more importantly, ongoing participation from the NHL, is a milestone for acceptance of all athletes at every level of play and sport," said Wade Davis, executive director of You Can Play, which promotes equality in sports. "Every major men's sports league has been represented in a You Can Play video and now every team in one of the world's premier sports leagues has actively participated."

The NHL first revealed its partnership with the equality project last April in an announcement lauded by sports figures and LGBT activists alike. Though some NHL players had independently filmed videos for You Can Play, thereby voicing their support for gay rights, the announced partnership was the first time the league took an official position on gay rights.

In a statement released at the time, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said:

Our motto is 'Hockey Is For Everyone,' and our partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way. While we believe that our actions in the past have shown our support for the LGBT community, we are delighted to reaffirm through this joint venture with the NHL Players' Association that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker rooms and in the stands.

After the announcement, Bleacher Report columnist Steve Silverman called the NHL's decision to support gay players a "a watershed moment in sports."

While the partnership primed the scene for the first gay hockey player to go public, no member of the NHL has come out.

Watch Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog's You Can Play PSA with players from two Colorado high schools below.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to the NFL's decision to support gay players. The support comes from the NHL.



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