Lundqvist, who has appeared in a video in support of the You Can Play Project, says he'd be equally supportive of an openly gay teammate or NHL colleague.
BY PETER BOTTE / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist applauded the announcement Thursday that the NHL and NHLPA have formed an official partnership with the You Can Play Project, the year-old advocacy organization that fights homophobia in sports.
"I think it's a good thing. For me, it's not even a question," Lundqvist said after Rangers practice Friday in Greenburgh. "I think it's important that everybody knows that we respect everybody. Everybody deserves to play this game, it doesn't matter who you are.
"It's not really a discussion to me. It should be there. I think we should embrace it and we should support it."
Lundqvist, among several prominent NHLers who appeared in a video in support of You Can Play last year, believes people in his native Sweden are "more open-minded" on the topic of sexual orientation than those in North America. He added that he would support an openly gay teammate or NHL player.
"A lot of times that's what it takes, just to talk about it and get it out there so it's not uncomfortable for people," Lundqvist said. "If someone is gay, I hope he feels comfortable talking about it. I don't have a problem with it at all.
"I hope everybody feels comfortable being themselves and just be the way they want to be, stop feeling any pressure when it comes to everything - religion or whatever it might be."
Flyers scout Patrick Burke, son of longtime NHL general manager Brian Burke, started the You Can Play initiative following the death of his 21-year-old younger brother, Brendan, in a car accident in Feb. 2010. Brendan Burke had announced in 2009 that he was gay and had worked to try to combat homophobia in hockey and other sports.
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