Next question: Sochi hopefuls are trying to be diplomatic about Russia’s controversial ant-gay law. (Susan Walsh/AP)
By Allan Muir
The players at USA Hockey’s pre-Olympic orientation camp knew the questions were coming. And they were well prepared.
At least, that’s how it felt yesterday when three of them addressed the issue of the anti-gay propaganda legislation that was recently enacted in Russia. The answers felt a little . . . scripted, and not quite on point regarding the players take on the Olympic host counry. Instead, the players’ carefully crafted message was geared more towards inclusivity in the NHL, and their answers played like a PSA for the You Can Play Project.
That’s a good thing . . . but it was also a neat sidestepping of the controversy.
“I think the position of USA Hockey is [that] hockey is for everyone,” Blues captain David Backes said. “I think as an American who believes in the freedom that we have and the way that we run our society and culture, everyone has the right to participate in sports or live their lifestyle the way that they want. I’m supportive of anyone. We had our first gay basketball professional athlete come out this year. My stance then, and now, is anyone is welcome in my locker room with the St. Louis Blues that lives that lifestyle. I don’t care if you’re black, white, green, purple, gold [or] what you think. As long as you’re committed to the team aspect and the way that we’re playing, you’re always welcome on my team.
Backes eventually got back around to the topic at hand . . . sort of.