The NHL is rolling out various initiatives as part of Hockey Is For Everyone month, a celebration of the sport’s diversity and an attempt at fostering a more inclusive environment. Part of that has been announcing LGBTQ ambassadors for each of the 30 teams, as reported by Outsports.
Trevor van Riemsdyk is the You Can Play ambassador for the Chicago Blackhawks, and will help support the team’s efforts to create a more LGBTQ-friendly environment for young players.
The more notable player on the list, however, will be former Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, who is listed as the ambassador for his current team, the Montreal Canadiens. Shaw was at the center of a controversy in the spring when he was seen yelling a homophobic slur at a referee from the penalty box during the playoffs, and the NHL suspended him a game for his actions.
Shaw apologized afterwards and said he had “no excuses” for his behavior, so you hope that his involvement with You Can Play is a sign that he’s taken some lessons to heart and evolved as a person since that incident.
The Blackhawks have partnered with You Can Play in the past, including last year when Scott Darling and Niklas Hjalmarsson participated in a video speaking out for the cause.
It’s not clear how the NHL decided on who would be the ambassador for each team, or what was required of them to get the roles. Did players volunteer, and was there any training or something like that involved? That wasn’t described, but at the least the NHL continues making efforts to diversify its reach.