Brendan Burke

NHL & Burke family say "You Can Play" and lead charge to end homophobia in sports

The National Hockey League has joined the growing effort by professional sports and players campaigning to end homophobia, introducing a new series of public service announcements to encourage gay athletes to participate in sports.

The new PSAs — “You Can Play” — feature eight NHL players, including Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks and Daniel Alfredsson from the Ottawa Senators, reported The New York Times on Sunday.

NHL scout: "We need more gay role models"

Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke is urging gay athletes to follow in the footsteps of his brother Brendan, who died nearly two years ago, and come out of the closet in the hyper-masculine world of sports.

"We need more straight and gay athletes at the professional level need to step up and say it's OK," he told CTV's National Affairs Friday. "We need more role models."

Burke, who is the son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, said his brother Brendan was the first gay person he really knew.