This piece is dedicated to all hockey fans, no matter their gender, race, sexuality or team affiliation. It was inspired by the You Can Play project, a campaign dedicated to bringing equality to the sport of hockey. If you can play, you can play. If you can cheer, you can cheer.

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You Can Play.

Of all the sports to spearhead an equality campaign, I would not have picked hockey. And this is not because I don’t think there are fair-minded, intelligent folks within the broader hockey community who would step up. I just didn’t think that it was a key issue in our sport, when our discussions tend to be more about violence, injury, and immigration laws.

I don’t think I’m giving enough credit, though, to the fact that hockey is grounded in Canada, where marriage equality has been legal for eight years now. I mean, the fact that this marriage proposal can take place and the crowd cheers rather than boos–that says a lot about the fanbase. (H/t Puck Daddy.)

But regardless, watching the success, growth, and acceptance of the You Can Play project, with the whole Canucks team and over 40 NHL players on board in support, is not something I ever expected. And I am so incredibly grateful that it has.

You can play. And by stepping up and saying it publicly, it takes sentiment and makes it truth.

The Universe, Fool

God, the ways in which I want this to be my ringtone. Damn that cursed professionalism.

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Good to know there’s always a second career option.

Is it just me or is Jaromir Jagr trying to secure his post-hockey porn star career?

Jaro the fireman:

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Jaro the pizza delivery guy:

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I guess it’s good to cultivate your options early…

I love Sidney Crosby, but.

I stop short of buying original art of him as a young child with Mario Lemieux as his mythical father figure:

At least Mario’s statue is club-approved.

(h/t to Puck Daddy, who offers many more creepy Crosby artefacts out there in the world.)

Brian McGrattan is a stand-up guy.

I have a special place in my heart for the Predators. I was thirteen when the Preds came to Tennessee, already primed for five years with a love of hockey from extensive re-watchings of “The Mighty Ducks” and subsequent films. I’m not embarrassed about that either! Hockey, and ice, was hard to come by in Tennessee. We had a couple of minor league teams, but none in my hometown. The closest ice rink was a 45 minute drive away in either direction. All my passion for the game came out through fiction, both visual and textual.

All that to say that, if I still lived in Nashvegas, I would be out there busting ass for the Predators every night there was a game, and the fondness stretches all those miles of difference. Brian McGrattan, a right-winger the Preds claimed off waivers this year, is worthy of that praise. This is really touching clip of him speaking about his experience as a recovering alcoholic at the Nashville Salvation Army Sobriety Banquet.

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Brian McGrattan, posted with vodpod

You may only temporarily be a Predator, Brian, but you make it easy to be a fan.

Ah, the vagaries of the trade deadline.

So, Vancouver is trading Hodgson.

Look, I get it. The ‘Nucks have a lot of strong forwards, and a host of goal scorers. There’s a good argument there that Cody’s getting lost in the crowd (apart from, you know, the 16 goals he’s scored this season averaging 13 minutes a game); that, having matured from a rookie, he’s learned a lot of his skills from his teammates, skills they already showcase on the Canucks. Playoff runs–and thus the trade deadline–are all about getting your pieces into place to try and take the Cup. So it makes strategic sense to pull out an almost redundant playing style and replace it with Kassian and Pahlsson (ssssssss) who could contribute to a stronger second and third line and a potentially more physical style of play.

My armchair analysis says it’s the lack of physicality that contributed to the excruciating loss in the playoffs last season. So I guess, on a strictly intellectual level, this is a sensible preemptive move for the real chance Vancouver has at the playoffs again this year. But that doesn’t make me happy. Look at this kid:

Hodgson is a fan favorite for a reason, and he really emerged this season. It seems a shame to cut him off from great mentors like the Sedins and Kesler–but franchise hockey is a business, not an art, and this is an example of that principle. I hope Cody succeeds and grows with the Sabres–there’s a lot of room to do that there–but what a missed opportunity to foster an excellent player.