Dallas Stars center — and Hockey Is For Everyone ambassador — Tyler Seguin, right, and Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak watch the movement of the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. The Stars defeated the Coyotes 4-1.
(Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

 

Tammye Nash | Managing Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

The National Hockey League has, for the second year in a row, designated February as “Hockey Is For Everyone” Month, in an ongoing effort to “reaffirm that the official policy of the game is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker rooms and in the stands.”

And this year, the Dallas Stars are participating in the initiative with “Hockey Is For Everyone Night” on Friday, Feb. 16, beginning at 7:30 p.m., during their game against the St. Louis Blues.

According to a statement posted on the Dallas Stars website, “The NHL and Dallas Stars support any teammate, coach or fan who brings heart, energy and passion to the rink and believe all hockey programs — from professionals to youth organizations — should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.

“Simply put, Hockey Is For Everyone.”

Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center, applauded the NHL for “certainly trying, as a league, to be really inclusive,” and credited the Stars with increasing their efforts to acknowledge the Hockey Is For Everyone initiative.

“Last year, when the NHL announced Hockey Is For Everyone, some teams took the idea and ran with it in a big way,” he said. “Other teams, such as the Dallas Stars, didn’t do that much at all with it. I was told that the Stars had a two-minute video that played during a break in one of the games in February and that was it.”

This year, McDonnell said, the Stars’ participation “will be much more involved than last year.” They are holding an official Hockey Is For Everyone night and have named “one of their most well-known players, if not the most well-known” as the team’s Hockey Is For Everyone ambassador.

The team’s statement notes that all-star forward Tyler Seguin is the Stars’ Hockey Is For Everyone ambassador, and that through his work with the Seguin Stars and the Dallas Stars Foundation, Seguin is using his platform as an NHL player to “help diverse groups connect to the game. In his fifth season with the Dallas, his work off the ice has benefitted such programs as Boys and Girls Club of Collin County, After School All-Stars, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Southwest Wheelchair Athletic Association.

As part of his role as Hockey Is For Everyone ambassador, Seguin and the Dallas Stars Foundation have announced that they will provide an outdoor ball hockey court to the Boys and Girls Club of Collin County and refurbish the club’s teen learning center. Seguin and foundation volunteers will help lay the foundation for the ball hockey court prior to a ribbon cutting ceremony on March 4.

Before the game against the Blues on Feb. 16, players from a number of the Stars’ local hockey programs will participate in a ceremonial puck drop, and Stars players will tape their sticks with Pride-themed hockey tape during warm-ups. The autographed sticks will then be auctioned off online at Auctions.NHL.com, with proceeds benefitting the You Can Play Project,

In addition, during the game the Stars will run a public service announcement featuring Seguin, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza in support of the Hockey Is For Everyone campaign.

McDonnell praised the Stars for increasing their efforts in the diversity initiative this year, but, he said, “I do wish they would have reached out to local LGBT organizations to make them a bigger part of them. Teams have done that in other cities, but not here. We tried to engage them but haven’t gotten much in return.”

He pointed to the Dallas Wings Pride Night, staged last June by the local WNBA franchise, as a good example of cooperation between a professional sports team and local LGBT organizations, noting that it was “the first official Pride Night we have seen from any pro sports team in North Texas.”

But, McDonnell continued, the team definitely “upped the ante” on Pride-themed merchandise this year. “Last year, they had one Pride T-shirt,” he said, while this year’s shopping options include Pride hockey tape and several different t-shirt and hoodie selections for both men and women.

The Dallas Stars organization also came out very strongly and loudly against efforts during last year’s Texas Legislature to pass a “bathroom bill” targeting transgender people.

“They have been tip-toeing in with support for our community,” McDonnel said. “The opportunity is certainly there for them to engage more, and I would really love for them to do that.”

Dallas Stars Vice President of Communications Tom Holy did not respond to Dallas Voice’s request for comment.

Group tickets to Hockey Is For Everyone Night are available online at nhl.com/stars/team/hockey-is-for-everyone. For more information on how a group or organization can participate, call 214-GO-STARS.