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Brian Burke on supporting first openly gay hockey player

Brian Burke

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke speaks to the media for the first time since the death of his 21-year-old Brendan on Friday, Feb. 12, 20101, before an NHL hockey game between the Maple Leafs and the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)


Even before the crushing death of his son Brendan, it seemed like Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke was poised to be an advocate of gay rights. The story is Burke immediately embraced his son when he came out and it seemed like the hockey community did, too.

Based on that experience and his own worldview, Burke told CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos that he believes life won’t be as difficult as expected for the first openly gay hockey player. (Whenever that time comes.)

“Right now, a player who’s contemplating that is thinking, the whole world’s going to be arrayed against him and be this mountain he’s gotta climb,” Burke said. “And I think he’s gonna find - I really believe this [after] watching the acceptance that my son got when he came out in the hockey community at Miami University - this athlete that has the courage to come out, is going to find that hill’s a lot less steep than he thinks it is.”

That’s certainly an interesting and optimistic take from Burke. Do you agree that such a player will receive more support than perhaps expected or might the reaction be quite different?

Check out the full video clip of Burke’s comments below.