Hendricks: "You Can Play"Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Caps forward Matt Hendricks plays the game of hockey with a great deal of courage. He’s not at all shy to throw his body in front of a hard slap shot from the point, he’s fearless going into the corners after the puck, and he is not at all reticent to drop his gloves to stand up for a teammate. It’s no surprise that Hendricks is standing up for something else he believes in off the ice and away from the game and supporting those who are displaying a different type of courage. On Thursday afternoon – just days before returning to his native Minnesota for the summer – Hendricks stopped by Kettler Capitals Iceplex to film a video testimonial for "You Can Play' project (youcanplayproject.org), an organization that advocates respect for all athletes regardless of their sexual orientation. “It started with my wife, Kim,” says Hendricks. “She was contacted about the opportunity to do that. She is a gay rights advocate. She has friends [who are gay] and has strong feelings towards it, towards everybody being treated the right way and the proper way. She talked to me about the opportunity that I could speak up about it, and she knows that I am a supporter of it as well. It strikes home now that I have two kids. It’s hard to explain why you have these reasons or these feelings, but a big reason behind it is that you just want everyone treated the same way.” Many athletes have been taking a stand for “You Can Play,” standing up against homophobia in locker rooms at all levels of sports. Launched earlier this year, the "You Can Play" project is co-founded by Patrick Burke, brother of the late Brendan Burke. Brendan Burke’s courage – he acknowledged he was gay during his tenure as the manager of the Miami (Ohio) University hockey team – continues to inspire his brother and their father, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke. Brian Burke is on the “You Can Play” advisory board. NHL players Andy Miele of the Phoenix Coyotes and Tommy Wingels of the San Jose Sharks are also on the advisory board. Both players were members of the Miami University team when Brendan Burke was the manager there. Hendricks and his wife are proud parents to twins born last November, and they’re looking forward to their first off-season with their expanded family. Before heading back to Minnesota, Hendricks made sure he made time to stand up for something he believes in. “There are still people out there that speak freely,” says Hendricks, “the same way they would have 50 years ago in a lot of different areas, whether it be racism or speaking about gay rights and things like that. “For me, those areas are black and white: What’s right, and what’s wrong. If I have the opportunity to help in any way – to clear up those areas and make them more black and white – I’ll take that opportunity. Hockey is a great game and anybody should be able to play it. And it doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight in my opinion. It comes right to the slogan: If you can play, you can play. And as we move forward as a society, people are more open and they’re willing to share a lot more freely. But it’s not where it should be. It should be a lot easier than it is right now.” Caps winger Mike Knuble also recorded a spot for the You Can Play Project, but the edited version of Knuble’s spot has not yet been added to the "You Can Play" project’s Website. Hendricks knows that being a pro athlete carries responsibilities beyond the scope of the game, and he wants to serve as a positive role model. “I think that there are kids out there in that situation,” says Hendricks. “And I think that if we have any kind of a voice at the level that we’re at in the NHL, and we can use our voice to help them, then I think we need to do it.” We’ll keep you posted as to when the Hendricks and Knuble spots are posted on the "You Can Play" project’s site.
While the rest of us were enjoying a long holiday weekend, Caps GM George McPhee and his Boston counterpart Peter Chiarelli carved out the time to consummate a trade. The Capitals sent forward Chris Bourque to Boston for forward Zach Hamill. On the surface, it’s a minor deal. The two players