The Boston Bruins will become the first professional hockey team to receive honors from an LGBTQ organization when they are given the Icon Award from MassEquality in February.
In the eyes of MassEquality, the Bruins go above and beyond just being allies for LGBTQ people.
“They aren’t just allies – they are symbols of what others should aspire to in their support of LGBT issues. Those we are honoring on February 28 have demonstrated through their actions that they understand the necessity of doing the right thing, even if it seems unpopular. That’s what makes them icons, and that’s what makes MassEquality proud to recognize them,” said Kara Suffredini, the organization’s executive director.
The Bruins were among the first teams to team up with the You Can Play Project, which is also all about equality and ending homophobia in sports. Captain Zdeno Chara did a video for the organization back in March 2012–in fact, it looks like that was the first video YCP ever did, though there are a lot more now. Andrew Ference has helped raise money through the cause, in part by making co-founder Patrick Burke (yes, son of Brian, who will not let his father’s dismissal affect his work) participate in some pretty strenuous early morning workouts.
It’s worth noting that the Providence Bruins have also taken the initiative with You Can Play along with the Manchester Monarchs and Peoria Rivermen.
Burke himself has said that the Bruins have been nothing but supportive of YCP . The management has been helpful in getting player access, the players are eager to help however they can, support is expressed and he is happy.
Shawn Thornton is named in the Icon Award information because of an interview he did with Boston Spirit in which he said the Bruins locker room would be supportive of a gay teammate. Yes, the beat cop of the Bruins says that he feels the room would be welcoming because the guys are like family.
In addition, the team also participated in Spirit Day efforts to end bullying of LGBTQ young people.
It’s really interesting to me to see that the three most vocal supporters of equality on the Bruins are big, tough guys. It would be inadvisable to cross Chara in the wrong way. Ference can put up his dukes too, and Thornton’s reputation precedes him. Chara and Thornton are also the eldest players, so they help keep the young guys in line. To see a trio of tough hockey players say that anyone is welcome in the locker room and everyone deserves to be treated fairly is worth noting.
Congratulations to the Bruins for their Icon Award honors!