Patrick Burke

Patrick Burke speaks about players lending support to You Can Play Project for gay athletes

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By now hockey fans are familiar with the story of Brendan Burke, son of Leafs GM Brian Burke. Brendan was the first man in hockey to come out to his team as a homosexual while working as a coach at Miami University. The acceptance shown to him by his team and his family was a heartwarming story for all who have fears of doing the same and where the You Can Play Project gets its starting point.

You Can Play is getting support from a number of NHL players and showing their support through a PSA you’ll see later today on NBC’s game of the week between the Bruins and Rangers. Patrick Burke is a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers and one of the co-founders of You Can Play and Burke tells PHT that the aim of the project is to make the locker rooms and arenas safe for gay athletes.

“We’re trying to raise awareness of the issues LGBT athletes face. I don’t think enough people are aware just how hard a locker room can be on gay athletes of all ages,” Burke says.

Filming a PSA that features Patrick and his father Brian along with 12 NHL stars helps serve notice that the league is serious about breaking down the barriers for those that want to enjoy sports. Featured in the spot are Rick Nash, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Joffrey Lupul, Dion Phaneuf, Corey Perry, Andy Greene, Duncan Keith, Daniel Alfredsson, Brian Boyle, and Henrik Lundqvist. That’s a lot of fire power and there’s more help on the way.

“We’ve got 35 guys committed to the filming so far with 30 guys I believe now have been filmed,” Burke says. “We’re hoping that as other guys see the PSAs and see what we’re all about that more and more of them will find ways to get involved to show their support.”

It won’t be easy at the start, and we’ve seen instances this season where the kind of language they’re hoping to eliminate from locker rooms is out there, but with what the You Can Play Project is trying to do, Burke says their aim is to teach and not vilify.

“We’re about education. We’re not about anything else. We’re not about punishment or vilifying or making enemies. We’re just here to show people what the issues are and how best to combat them,” Burke says.

So it’s like teaching through kindness then?

“Yeah… Well, we’re still the Burkes so we’ll drop the gloves if we have to.”

Here’s video of the PSA you’ll see during this afternoon’s tilt between the Rangers and Bruins. You can read up more on the You Can Play Project at their website or follow them on Twitter.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.