It's been on year since the death of Brendan Burke, the son of Toronto Maple Leafs and U.S. Olympic Team General Manager Brian Burke, who bravely came out publicly in 2009 to everyone in the NHL and the world. Burke was tragically killed just a few short months afterward. His family has maintained the pro-gay attitude that Brendan helped ignite.
"It has been a striking symbol to see big, burly Brian Burke, who uses words like 'belligerence' and 'truculence' when he talks about building his team, marching in the Pride Parade in Toronto, attending a Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays dinner in New York, meeting with former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue – whose son, Drew, is openly gay – in Washington to talk about how they can work together on the issue."
"Brian Burke has declined interview requests concerning Brendan, a Leafs spokesman said. But his son Patrick, a Philadelphia Flyers scout, told the Ottawa Sun: 'As a family, if a player comes out, we don’t want it to be for Brendan. We want him to do it for himself. The fact that Brendan was really the one who, in the hockey world, kicked off the discussion, that would be a very proud thing for us. The day Brendan’s goals are realized will be a very happy day for us.'"
It was because of Brendan that the Stanley Cup was included in a gay pride parade.
Just this week at least one NHL player has vocalized his support for an openly gay teammate. Sean Avery told the Toronto Sun: “I’ll stand beside him in the dressing room while he tells his teammates he is gay. Maybe if Sean Avery is there, they would have less of a problem with it.”