As the title says, I am Patrick Burke. I am a scout for the Flyers, one of the founders of the You Can Play Project, and a longtime Redditor. Proof

Quick Edit: Media types, please do not quote me from here. Interviews can be arranged through our website. This AmAA will be done in a tone appropriate for Reddit, not in a tone I'd like to see published.

I founded You Can Play in honor of my late brother, Brendan, who came out publicly in 2009 in an article. 38 NHL players have committed to appearing in our PSA campaign to make locker rooms safe for LGBT athletes around the world.

Our website: Our first video: Youtube Link

I've got a few hours to kill while writing scripts for the next rounds of PSAs. Please, AmAA. There may be questions regarding the NHL I can't answer for tampering reasons, and I can't reveal the names of other players who are participating. Otherwise I will do my best to answer anything.

Edit: Going to shut down around 1:30 or so. Thank you all for all the great questions. I got to as many as I could. If you have more questions, please check out the website. Our team can also be followed @YouCanPlayTeam. We would love to have everyone check out the released PSAs, and to keep watching as we release more. In addition, our site is equipped to upload submitted videos from fans, athletes, coaches, and teams who want to show their support for LGBT athletes. Thank you for all the support, Reddit!

Comments: 1365 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

PECOTA604 karma

No question, just wanted to say thank you. You Can Play is an incredibly admirable project taking on homophobia in one of the last places where it's socially acceptable.

JoshSchwaa170 karma

Came here to say this. Even though, as a straight guy your use of Mr. Lundqvist in your ad's blurs the line!

BurkieYCP309 karma

If I had to summarize the feedback I've gotten on the project so far, it would be:

1) This is great! 2) You sound like your Dad 3) I've always hated Brian Burke, but this is great 4) Is there any way to show Lundqvist's eyes in color in the next one? 5) When is [favorite team] going to show up? 6) Lundqvist is a pretty man!

never_sleep45 karma

Not homophobic or anything, strictly curious, is Lundqvist homosexual?

BurkieYCP182 karma

Married to a woman. He is just supportive of equality.

jacksonattack468 karma

What was your reaction when Brent Sopel chose to honor your brother by taking the Stanley Cup to the Chicago Gay Pride parade in the summer of 2010?

BurkieYCP475 karma

It was an awesome moment for the hockey world. Brent reached out to ask our permission first, and we were more than happy to give it.

meatsbeat415 karma

  1. I think the You Can Play Project is an awesome idea and hopefully it gains some steam.

  2. Fuck the Flyers.

BurkieYCP449 karma

  1. Thank you.
  2. We still love you.

adamzep91235 karma

I'd like to start by saying I am really proud that hockey is leading the way with this type of movement, and I really hope it catches on. I had a former teammate come out a couple years ago, and said he couldn't bring himself to do it while he was still playing (I played Junior A).

  1. What was your (and your dad's) very first reaction when you found out Brendan was gay?

  2. Which player(s) would you say was the most willing/enthusiastic to participate in You Can Play?

  3. Are there any players who you or somebody else approached to participate who refused for whatever reason?

  4. Are you working with any other leagues to get something like this started for them? (NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, etc.)

Thank you for doing this!

BurkieYCP509 karma

  1. I gave Brendan a hug, told him I didn't care. Then we walked back inside my family's house and I yelled "Mom, you owe me twenty bucks! I always told you he was gay!" An older brother's job is always to harass his younger brother. I wanted Brendan to know that nothing would change about our relationship.

  2. Answered elsewhere, but Tommy Wingels and Andy Miele are the two big ones. The NHL players we have reached out to have been amazing and have gone out of their way to participate.

  3. We do not comment on players that may have been approached. We don't ever want a player to feel shamed into participating, and some players may have legitimate reasons for not participating (for example, some may be contractually obligated to only appear in ads for their charity).

  4. We are working to make those introductions now. We're hoping the overwhelming success of the NHL ads will work in our favor. One PR expert estimated that the massive amount of positive PR the NHL received in the wake of our launch was probably worth about 2.5-3 million dollars in ad buys for a league.

BurkieYCP231 karma

Got yelled at by my mother for some of my answers. Going to have to switch back to full-on professional mode and out of Reddit mode, it seems. It appears that out of context the things I'm saying as jokes (which they are) don't appear to be jokes. So I'll apologize for those comments. I'd also like to say hello to the Toronto media, who have taken such an interest in this AmAA.

Arg0naut77 karma

Since your being professional, I'll say it, FUCK THE TORONTO SPORTS MEDIA

BurkieYCP170 karma

I like the media. I wasn't being sarcastic, I was saying hello. I only have to change tone because now both my mom and my PR guy have yelled at me.

"Patrick, I didn't realize we had Louis CK as a client." "...Reddit loves Louis CK." "That's not what I meant!"

n8wolf165 karma

I'm a straight man but had the shit kicked out of me in a baseball locker room for participating in the Day of Silence (event run by our school's Gay Straight Alliance). The sports world's testosterone driven atmosphere lends itself to confused and uninformed high school students acting out against any advances or gay activity (imagined or otherwise) from fellow teammates.

Thank you so much for your this project. A teammate is a teammate. It's a brotherhood (and sisterhood... ladies ;)) that extends beyond sexuality.

To the question! What would you consider a success for the You Can Play Project? Are there follow-up measures and community outreach programs we can assist with or look forward to?

BurkieYCP325 karma

I will consider You Can Play a success when we can shut down. When an athlete coming out is a non-story, when we're not losing young athletes to harassment and fear, and when athletes are judged only by what they bring to the game.

CJBinATX130 karma

With representatives from Kraft and AEG, as well as David Testo, on the board, will MLS be the next sport you work to partner with?

Chris -

(We'd love to work with you)

BurkieYCP140 karma

We would love to work with the MLS. The sport is rapidly growing in North America and we'd love to ensure that it is LBGT friendly. David is a great spokesperson for gay soccer players, and we are going to work to put him front and center with some MLS connections.

Hk37128 karma

How widely accepted is your campaign in the NHL? Do you feel that most of the players are accepting of gay players/teammates, or do you think that there's still a lot of progress to be made?

BurkieYCP299 karma

Yesterday an NHL player who has also played in the Olympics sent me an email demanding (mostly jokingly) to know why he wasn't asked to be involved right from the start. In 2006, Sports Illustrated did a survey of the major sports, and 80% of NHL players said they would support an openly gay teammate. Our athletes are fully on board with this. Source

HombreGranJefe127 karma

Do you hate ESPN as much as ESPN hates hockey?

BurkieYCP342 karma

We are proud to have two members of the ESPN family on our advisory board, John Buccigross and LZ Granderson. In addition, ESPN has been well represented at the GLAAD awards the past few years. ESPN's job is to get ratings, and they have decided (right or wrong, for better or worse) on their current method of doing that.

If you are looking to talk networks, HBO donated all the filming, production and editing costs for the first few PSAs. Their 24/7 team, led by the amazing Bentley Weiner and Joe Lavine, worked tirelessly to get these players filmed and produce the spots everyone is enjoying so much. And they did it for free. Free. Then NBC donated airtime during one of their biggest games of the year to air our PSA.

So, watch HBO and NBC.

footsold119 karma

Awesome on HBO and NBC. They seem to really embrace hockey.

BurkieYCP300 karma

Plus, The Wire and Community. I wonder if Alison Brie is a hockey fan.

southpaw87114 karma

Can we get your dad for an AMA as well? I'm sure /r/hockey would love that.

BurkieYCP405 karma

My dad just mastered his blackberry about 6 months ago. In 15 years when he understands how online message boards work, I will have him do an AMA.

gmoney139383 karma

Mr. Burke, Big fan of your work. Fully support the charity that you and your father have started. Massive fan of your father and his work.

Your brother was a pioneer, and may he rest in peace.

What kind of specific tools would you provide for LGBT athletes, so that they can educate their team mates and coaches. -Greg

BurkieYCP75 karma

There are a few resources on our site now, but we will have our "Playbook" ready for this fall. Our first priority was getting the PSA campaign up and moving. Now with that going and our advisory board in place, we are going to be developing and releasing comprehensive resources for the sports community. We anticipate it will be done in time for the start of fall sports/schools going back in session.

morty1971 karma

The story of your brother Brendan got alot of play up here in Toronto. I am sorry for you loss he seemed like an amazing person. I think it was very honorable of your father to walk in the Gay pride parade later that year.

Do you think homophobia is rampant in the NHL locker rooms?

BurkieYCP182 karma

We call it "casual homophobia." It's people (specifically athletes in this case) using homophobic slurs without intending them to be homophobic slurs (usually). It's the guy who says "That's so gay" when he means "That's stupid." It's the guy who says "Don't be a fag" instead of "don't be an asshole."

We find once we educate athletes that for a member of the LGBT community it's impossible for those words to have other meanings, they adjust their language accordingly. I believe the vast, vast, vast majority of NHL athletes are supportive of openly gay athletes.

[deleted]69 karma

First off, I wanted to say that I think this is an awesome project, especially because hockey has become my new favorite sport.

Also, do you hope to make this a sport-wide project once it really gets up and running? (Not just the NHL, I guess, but the AHL/juniors/even some college teams too?)

BurkieYCP89 karma

We intend to make You Can Play available to all athletes, of all genders, at all levels, everywhere. Our advisory board has representatives from several sports, and we hope to expand rapidly to work with them. As for the AHL, juniors, and the NCAA, we have heard from teams in all 3 leagues who want to make PSAs.

Perfectian65 karma


BurkieYCP124 karma

Without knowing your brother, it's hard to answer. Good players come out of both leagues. The CHL is where most of the NHL's players come from for a reason, but a lot of players develop better at the NCAA or CIS level for various reasons, and they have the option of falling back on their degree if a hockey career doesn't work out.

Ticer55 karma

With your father being such a highly recognizable person in the NHL for an original six franchise, do you find it weird to be scouting for Philly? I assume as part of your contract you keep all scouting info confidential between you and the Flyers; but do you ever get the urge to be like "Hey pops! Keep your eye on (Insert Prospect Name) he's lighting up the KHL!"?

BurkieYCP101 karma

Not awkward at all. I made it a point when I got out of college that I wasn't going to work for him (right away) so that I could prove I could do it on my own. He understood that and stayed out of my way. We do not talk about players often.

nurgleplague47 karma

Do you find the life of an NHL scout is really as inglorious as many other professional scouts claim it is? (the long days, the driving hours upon hours etc)

BurkieYCP149 karma

It's certainly not glorious in any sense. It's fun, but it is a grind. I'm in law school as well, so between that, the charity, and scouting I have a lot going on. There is a lot of long drives, cold rinks, and bad hockey. At the end of the day though, we get paid to watch hockey for a living. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

sslia41 karma

What was Brian Burke like as a dad?

By the way, truly amazing campaign.

BurkieYCP141 karma

Truculent? In all seriousness, the image that the public has of my father is not accurate. He takes on a lot of heat for himself in order to save his team or coach the hassle, and people seem to judge him by that. He sees that as part of his job.

He has a very big heart- I guarantee he does more charity work than any other GM in professional sports, and he does it very quietly.

[deleted]38 karma

I admire your stance on homophobia, and thank you for it.
Also, how the hell do I learn how to play hockey? I can't find any drop in leagues in my area.

BurkieYCP98 karma

Find places to skate first, then try it with a stick and pads. Skating is the most important part.

cabbagebooty36 karma

Ditto what PECOTA said; thank you for founding You Can Play. It's really incredible what you guys are doing.

You might not be able to answer this question because it's about the NHL/specific players. Are there any players or teams who have been particularly helpful, eager and willing to participate and give a lot to You Can Play?

BurkieYCP91 karma

Tommy Wingels of the SJ Sharks and Andy Miele of the PHX Coyotes organization both serve on our advisory board. In addition, they are our founding donors. Without their support and generosity, we never would have gotten off the ground. They keep bugging me to find more ways to get them involved in LGBT athlete outreach. Tommy and Andy are absolute hockey heroes.

daddyleglonger36 karma

As a huge Flyers fan, I would like to thank you, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux for doing this. Ive never been so proud of my team and the sport I love. I almost cried when I saw the ad during this Sundays rangers game.

Question: How do you find players who want to be part of the program? Not asking for names, but have there been any players who are completely against the program? Some teams or owners who don't support this?

P.S. If your the scout that found Matt Read, thank you so fucking much

BurkieYCP41 karma

There is another Flyer who has participated. He will be in one of the next ones.

We sent emails out to every NHL GM asking for players. Sometimes we asked for specific players, other times we asked for the team to suggest names. They then spoke to those players or their PR department about who should be involved.

Ross Fitzpatrick was the scout who pushed hard for Matt Read, but all decisions are made as a group. No one scout gets credit or blame for a pick (well, not publicly).

Heaton3128 karma


Are you a pro scout or amateur scout? If pro, what did you think of the Kronwall hit on Voracek? Secondly, what were your thoughts on Giroux before his breakout season this year. Not many players can make their teammates that much better, even Crosby and Malkin aren't turning 50 point players into potential 70 point players (Hartnell).

Thanks in advance!

BurkieYCP55 karma



Love Claude. Brilliant player with incredible vision and great work ethic.

Brickstreet26 karma

Hey Patrick,

As a Miami grad that was in school when we went to the championship, when everything happened, and there to see the blossoming of support and the way that The Brotherhood and the school salutes the memory of Brenden, I gotta say that it is very inspiring and amazing to see how far it has come in such a short amount of time.

  1. Andy and Tommy are phenomenal assets to the YCP team, as well as great ambassadors to both the NHL and NCAA. As you gain support, exposure, and awareness... do you think that a scholarship would be awarded? Do you think that offering a scholarship or award would be help or hurt someone coming out in college?

  2. I know YCP is still a VERY young organization. However, I can see it being extremely effective immediately. Does the YCP project have guidance or help if a gay athlete contacts YCP, and needs help for coming out?

-Love and Honor

BurkieYCP37 karma

I have to answer for Brickstreet.

  1. There is a Brendan Burke Scholarship at Miami that will be awarded. I do not know if a You Can Play Scholarship is something that we will consider. Obviously there would be pressure to ensure that LGBT athletes got the scholarship, and at first glance that seems to undermine the whole "everyone's equal" idea. That said, I haven't thought of that before your comment so I will have to consider all the viewpoints of it.

  2. We would make ourselves, our friends, and our resources available to help a young athlete in any way we could.

chaosmonkey26 karma

Do you think there will be 8 teams in Canada any time in the near future, either by relocation or expansion?

BurkieYCP129 karma

Why are you ignoring the possibility of a Canadian invasion that annexes areas of the Northern US with NHL teams?

Stuntz21 karma

Thank you for your AMA. I'm a Miami University Senior and I remember the day the university sent out the email about Brendan, and I was at the hockey game afterward where the Redhawks wore the BB patches. I never knew Brendan but I know how much the Redhawks and his friends meant to him. I went to Europe with a friend who I later found out knew Brendan very well and he still talks about Brendan. Thanks for all your hard work and good luck!

BurkieYCP20 karma

Love and Honor to Miami. What a special, amazing place. They have already filmed their version of the You Can Play PSAs and it should be released shortly.

Clumpopatumus15 karma

I just have some questions about scouting.

Who are some current NHL players you have discovered?

What leagues/countries do you scout specifically?

How much do scouts from opposing teams talk to each other about players?

Is Hakan Andersson (Detroit Red Wings) considered a god among scouts?

BTW I think the You Can Play Project is great.

BurkieYCP19 karma

I scout pro hockey in New England- NCAA, AHL, and NHL.

Depends on the player, on the scout, the scenario, and the blood-alcohol content. For example, it's not uncommon for scouts to talk about established players and say what they like about him. It's far more rare for scouts to talk about players available in an upcoming draft.

NiceBoots14 karma

Do you have a story from the You Can Play Project that stands out to you as a great success?

I think its an awesome thing that you're doing

BurkieYCP29 karma

We filmed some players during All Star weekend in Ottawa. CBC was amazing and donated a cameraman, a producer, and all the equipment/film we needed. We told players we would be set up from 9-5 and they could stop by at their leisure. Two players who had agreed to be there got hung up with other things and couldn't make it. We were disappointed, but completely understood.

Later that night both players emailed me apologizing profusely and asking if there was any possible way we could shoot them tomorrow. I called Trevor Pilling, producer of Hockey Night in Canada. I had already sent him a thank you note for everything he had done for us and ended it with something along the lines of "I couldn't ask for anything more than you've given us this weekend." Well...change of plans.

Trevor and the CBC somehow got a team together to shoot the next day, and we got an additional two players done.

devon43513 karma

1) Hi Patrick! I'm a lifelong flyers fan, it's really cool to have you on here. Do you know my cousin Wade? He too is a scout for philly.

2) How much of a problem do do you think derogatory/homophobic slurs said on the ice in the heat of the moment are? I know that a lot of people maintain that they're just words that players have grown up using in the hockey culture. But at the same time even if you aren't thinking of the real meaning when you call someone "fag" on the ice, there are still some really hostile and negative connotations attached to that. Do you think that removing that from the game is important? or even realistic?

Edit: Spelling

BurkieYCP18 karma

  1. Wade is a great guy! He actually was the one who got me started with the G-Force hockey team, which led to You Can Play.

  2. Answered elsewhere. Ctrl-F "casual homophobia"

CervantesX13 karma

You're doing good work. It's hard, especially with hockey players, but keep at it and you'll succeed. What's it like working for the Flyers, and what is your personal goal? Management? Coaching? Or will you move to pushing this initiative full time?

BurkieYCP16 karma

The Flyers are a first class organization to work for. They treat us amazingly well, and I have learned a ton from the hockey minds that I have been lucky enough to work with and for. Long term, I would like to move into management. I am currently in law school for that reason.

iamslm2212 karma

1- out of all the players you have scouted which one did you right away think this guy is a star 2- who is the nicest guy in the nhl 3- who is the biggest jerk in the nhl

BurkieYCP46 karma

  1. Jack Johnson or Taylor Hall (at age 16). 2. Trevor Linden

ripvanfish12 karma

I just came to thank you for your work, but since so many people share my sentiments, I'm including an unrelated question as well!

What is your earliest childhood memory?

BurkieYCP44 karma

Crying in my grandparent's hallway because we were moving to Vancouver is my earliest vivid memory. I have vague memories of being obsessed with grape-flavored popsicles to the point that our neighbors would stock up on them just in case I came by.

pinkiepie20210 karma

My brother is a hockey player and it's been his dream since he was 4 to get to the NHL. I try real hard to help him with his dream, even if it is a little out there. As a respected scout of the NHL, what is some helpful advice you can give to him about this goal?

BurkieYCP34 karma

NHLers are there because they outwork the rest of the world. The one thing an athlete can control game in and game out is their work ethic. Some nights the bounces don't go your way, some nights the guy across from you is just better, but there's no excuse to not always be the hardest worker.

To be honest, it's the exact same attitude we're trying to bring to You Can Play. We're going to screw things up. We are (ok, I am ) going to say the wrong things at times. We're going to make bad decisions, and other bad things will happen that we can't control. But I promise- to the young athletes out there who are struggling, to the fans (gay and straight) who want to support us, to people who are considering making a financial donation, to players considering making a video, and even to anyone out there who may oppose us- we will be the hardest working, the most relentless, and the most committed charity in the sports world. It may take us a while to get there, but we will not let anyone down. You all have my word as a Burke, as a brother, and as an ally to a wonderful cause.

With that, I'm off from this AMA. Thanks to everyone who participated.

martyshannon7 karma

Thank you for everything that you're doing. It makes me so happy to see so many NHL players support LBGT rights in their sport.

Are there any Bruins signed up to be in one of the PSAs?

BurkieYCP15 karma

We have confirmed that Zdeno Chara is a member of the You Can Play Team. I believe the PSA with him in it will be the next to debut, possibly as soon as this Saturday.

klevenisms2045 karma

where do scouts prefer to sit in an arena? i often heard its mid way up, in a corner. and who is your favorite player to watch play right now?

BurkieYCP9 karma

25-ish rows up, in a corner. If you look in the corner of a rink at almost any game, you will see groups of guys in black coats sitting with an empty seat between them (gives us space to write and stretch out). Those are the scouts.

apaquet4 karma

1)What advice would you give to a college student trying to break into the NHL Player Agent/scout network and is looking for an internship?

2) YouCanPlay is awesome. Playing for a Women's hockey team you would think be less homophobia but there still is and it is just frustrating to see.