The Carolina Hurricanes are being criticized on Facebook for changing their logo temporarily to a rainbow-colored one.
The Hurricanes host the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night at the PNC Center. The game begins the Hurricanes’ “Hockey is for Everyone” campaign created by the NHL to “celebrate diversity and inclusion in hockey.”
After the Hurricanes changed the logo on their Facebook page on Thursday, the team was criticized in Facebook comments for becoming too political. Most of the criticism centered on why a diversity campaign is needed and the attention it brings.
“Obviously there’s always going to be people on the other side,” said Carolina defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who is the Hurricanes’ Hockey is for Everyone ambassador. “If you look at the reason the (NHL, Hurricanes) are doing it is because it’s an awesome cause. A lot of time these days no matter how good and kind you’re trying to be there’s usually an opposing side.
“But as long as you’re doing it with your heart in the right place that’s really what matters.”
Friday’s game, labeled as “You Can Play Night” will have LGBTQ and other groups at tables in the concourse.
“Hockey is for Everyone is a league-wide initiative for all 31 member clubs,” the Hurricanes said in a statement. “It’s a chance for us to highlight the inclusiveness of our sport both in the diversity of the people who play it, and that of our fans. Throughout this month we are celebrating Hockey is For Everyone with games that showcase girls hockey, Triangle Special Hockey, Triangle Sled Hockey, the Capitol City Crew and tonight’s You Can Play Night. We’re proud to host all of these terrific organizations that celebrate diversity in hockey.”
Van Riemsdyk was the Chicago Blackhawks’ ambassador last season.
“It’s hugely important,” he said. “Hockey has given so much to all of us. There are so many good memories from hockey and hockey locker rooms and you want everyone to experience that and have that if that’s what they want to do. So you want to make sure you make it a point to show the locker room is a place for everyone.
“The NHL does a good job not just this month but throughout the whole year to make sure it’s something they focus in on.”
But what about the perception that hockey is a macho sport and players may not for the most part be very tolerant?
“That’s totally wrong,” van Riemsdyk said. “Everyone in every locker room I’ve been in made it a pretty welcoming environment. The guys in Chicago were all awesome, the guys here are great. It wouldn’t matter. Once you get in this locker room everyone is pulling in the same direction, and it’s a great environment to be a part of.”
One of the perks of the event is that some players will be wrapping their sticks with rainbow-colored tape.
“I think a lot of guys are going to do it,” van Riemsdyk said. “It may seem like a small thing, just tape on your stick, but I think the platform we have, with the people watching, you can make a difference for a few people. If they see that support and that camaraderie, just through a tape job on your stick, it may be a small thing but can go a long way.”
Sam Newkirk: 919-829-4526, @samnewkirk64