Article By: Brad Smith Image Credit: MLSE.com
As the saying goes, “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”, tonight we celebrate that while not everyone can be a hockey player, a hockey player can come from anyone.
The ‘You Can Play’ campaign was launched on March 4, 2012, by its three co-founders: Patrick Burke, Brian Kitts, and Glenn Witman. Patrick Burke was a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers and son of former Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke. Brian Kitts and Glenn Witman are both from GForce Sports. A great quote from Patrick Burke, "The end goal of our project is that we're completely useless. We want the day to come when it's not a story when an athlete comes out, when athletes are only judged by how they can help their teams win."
It should not matter about size, gender, background, race, religion, or anything else. It should not even depend on your physical abilities or challenges, as hockey comes in all shapes and sizes. Nothing should stop anyone from the opportunity to play this great game and benefit from all that hockey has to offer. It builds teamwork, responsibility, respect for yourself and others, and builds good self esteem.
Zach Hyman is the team’s ambassador for “Hockey is for Everyone” after he took over from former teammate James van Riemsdyk. “That it doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is or how you identify yourself. If you want to do something, go out and do it. You shouldn’t be restricted by how you feel and you how you identify yourself. Hockey has really come a long way in that. Being a hockey player, I think it’s important that the league recognized how important this movement is, and they do. The guys in this locker room do. It’s not just one night, it’s an ‘every night’ thing.”, Hyman stated.
Mike Babcock commented on the purpose behind this great campaign, “We live in a city – one of the greatest cities in the world, to say the least – and everybody here is welcome and everyone here is a part and it doesn't matter what you think or what you believe. It's an equal opportunity place, like no place I've ever been. The Leafs are that way as well and I think it's a fantastic thing”
We all share the same passion for the game. That unites us together. Under the equipment, we are all players, we are all the same. So as the ‘You Can Play’ campaign slogan states, “If you can play, you can play.”