On Monday morning the Capitals announced continuing activities to celebrate Hockey is for Everyone month. Earlier this month, the Caps kicked off the festivities by inviting UAE women’s hockey player Fatima Al Ali to DC for a week, where she skated with the team after practice, dropped the ceremonial face-off puck before the February 9 game against the Red Wings, and took the greatest selfie ever after said puck drop.
On Monday we learned February 24 will be Hockey is for Everyone Night at Verizon Center, and the Capitals will be hosting a series of initiatives to benefit You Can Play, an organization dedicated to equality in sports, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. During practice on February 23, select Capitals players will use Pride Tape on their sticks, and during the game on the 24th, goalie Braden Holtby will don a brand-new Hockey is for Everyone-themed mask. Both the sticks and the mask will be auctioned off, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to You Can Play. The team will also be hosting activities involving the American Special Hockey Association and the Chesapeake Wild women’s hockey team.
The NHL is celebrating Hockey Is For Everyone month during February. On Wednesday, the league announced that it was partnering with You Can Play to create more visibility and support for the LGBTQ community. The NHL also released a list that features a player from every team who is a You Can Play ambassador. According to the NHL, each athlete named will serve as a leader in the locker room and in the community on diversity, equality, and inclusion. The players have also agreed to lead the way in their markets to fight homophobia in sports. Some of them will even be featured in local public service announcements.
On Thursday, the NHL announced that Braden Holtby will be the Capitals’ LBGTQ representative.
Tuesday morning the Capitals announced they will participate in the annual Capital Pride parade, which supports and celebrates the Washington, DC LGBTQA community. Vezina nominee Braden Holtby, along with Slapshot and the Red Rockers will march in the parade. Members from Monumental Sports and the Washington Wizards and Mystics will join the Caps as well.
Bettman talks to Capitals owner Ted Leonsis during an event on Friday. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
Nearly 57 years ago, Willie O’Ree became the first black player in NHL. Today, society is different place — except when P.K. Subban plays in Boston.
“You don’t really notice it too much,” Capitals prospect Madison Bowey, who is black, said when I asked whether race was still an issue in hockey. “Everyone treats you the same. It’s not a big deal anymore; it’s a new generation.”
While race has come up as an issue for more broadly in America recently, it is becoming increasingly irrelevant in sports. Today, the Capitals and the NHL dedicated a refurbished street hockey rink in predominately black Southeast D.C.
Recently, though, questions have been raised how inclusive the NHL really is in other areas. Since August, three national hockey writers have been fired for making predatory advances towards female hockey fans online and via text message.
This story was inevitable. Russia’s strict laws regarding gay people and the upcoming Sochi Olympics have put some of our favorite players in awkward position. Luckily, Alex Ovechkin acquitted himself perfectly well during media time on Monday. Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk did not fare as well. This is going to get worse before it gets better.
Note: My opinion is my own and does not necessarily reflect all of RMNB.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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