BROSSARD, Que. — When the Montreal Canadiens asked for a volunteer to serve as the team’s ambassador “to lead the way in his market and fight homophobia in sports,” as part of the NHL’s month-long campaign in partnership with You Can Play’s “Hockey Is For Everyone” project, Andrew Shaw stepped up.
Shaw, who was a member of the Chicago Blackhawks when he was suspended for a game last spring for “making use of a homophobic slur,” saw this as an opportunity to show everyone what he really stands for.
“I’m the kind of guy that wants everyone to be happy. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or hurt anyone at all,” said Shaw on Friday. “What I went through last year—you know, I learned from it. Words affect people more than you think, and it’s something I learned. And with what I learned last year, I think it’s a good position for me to be in.
“I can take what I learned from my experience and help others learn from the value of words.”
The announcement of Shaw’s inclusion on Thursday, as one of the 30 representatives from each team who is tasked with being “a leader in the locker room and in the community on diversity, equality and inclusion,” was met with some skepticism on social media.
When asked if he was doing this just to repair his image, Shaw responded by saying, “I want it to be about the program, not about me.
“I just want to be there to help, and help is what I’m going to give,” he added.
When Shaw was suspended last season, YCP released an official statement that they were “saddened and offended” by his use of a homophobic slur.
As for their reaction to Shaw’s new role as an ambassador for the program, he said he hadn’t been in contact with anyone from the organization personally but that it had reached out to the Canadiens to say it was happy about his inclusion.
How will Shaw approach this role?
“If you were a friend or a teammate of mine, you’d know I’m a good listener,” he said. “I’m a good guy to vent to or talk to or whatever you need. I’m there to support my teammates, to support people in the community, so I’m just going to go out there and I’m just going to help as much as I can.
“I want everyone to be themselves and be comfortable with who they are because I think if you’re comfortable with yourself and who you are, I think that’s the only way to be happy and living with yourself.”
The other 27 representatives are:
Anaheim Ducks — Ryan Kesler
Arizona Coyotes — Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Buffalo Sabres — Anders Nilsson
Carolina Hurricanes — Eddie Lack
Calgary Flames — Matt Stajan
Chicago Blackhawks — Trevor van Riemsdyk
Colorado Avalanche — Gabriel Landeskog
Columbus Blue Jackets — Scott Hartnell
Dallas Stars — Curtis McKenzie
Detroit Red Wings — Frans Nielsen
Edmonton Oilers — Matt Hendricks
Florida Panthers — Shawn Thornton
Los Angeles Kings — Dustin Brown
Minnesota Wild — Charlie Coyle
Nashville Predators — Colin Wilson
New Jersey Devils — Andy Greene
New York Islanders — Casey Cizikas
New York Rangers — Mats Zuccarello
Ottawa Senators — Dion Phaneuf
Philadelphia Flyers — Claude Giroux
Pittsburgh Penguins — Chris Kunitz
San Jose Sharks — Chris Tierney
St. Louis Blues — David Perron
Tampa Bay Lightning — Brian Boyle
Toronto Maple Leafs — James van Riemsdyk
Vancouver Canucks — Henrik Sedin
Winnipeg Jets — Jacob Trouba