Flames players marching in Toronto Pride parade

Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano. (Derek Leung/Getty)

Some Calgary Flames are following the lead of the Edmonton Oilers captain. (That can’t be what God intended, can it?) And it is a fantastic look for the National Hockey League and the ever-growing You Can Play movement.

Andrew Ference marched in both the Edmonton Pride parade on June 7 and in the face of jock stereotypes. A couple of weeks later, Ference was awarded the King Clancy Trophy for being acknowledged as “the player who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice and who has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to his community.”

Ference may well have won the mantlepiece regardless if he had marched alongside the LGBT community, but his support of Pride underscored his character and the power of You Can Play, which has officially partnered with the NHL and NHLPA, CFL and CFLPA, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, and other professional sports teams.

Now two members of Edmonton’s rival Calgary Flames, captain Mark Giordano and emerging star Sean Monahan, have signed on to walk in Toronto’s Pride parade Sunday at the request of You Can Play leader Patrick Burke. Both Giordano and Monahan are from the Toronto area. Flames president of hockey operations and Patrick’s father, Brian Burke, will be participating as well.

Brian Burke’s son Brendan made news in November 2009 when he announced he was gay and spoke about the difficulty of participating in sports, a culture attempting to erase its anti-gay undercurrent. Brendan was killed in a car accident just months later. Patrick cofounded the You Can Play Project to bring respect to the locker room.

Monahan and Giordano will be joined Sunday by fellow NHLer Troy Bodie of the Toronto Maple Leafs as well as players from Toronto FC and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s Toronto Furies.

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