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Adam Proteau: Don't expect an NHLer to come out anytime soon

ADAM PROTEAU The Hockey News

News that former NBA player John Amaechi has come out as a homosexual means the NHL is the lone remaining member of the "big-four" pro leagues (yes, I'm feeling Gary Bettman-optimistic today) without a publicly gay man in its history.

Those holding their breath for a past or present-day NHLer to proclaim a preference in male partners are advised to exhale post-haste. I'm no gambler, but I'd bet a Saskatchewan's worth of farms that any and all elite-level gay hockey players will be stuck in their closets for decades to come.

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"A player or ex-player announcing he's gay? No chance whatsoever," said one NHL GM I spoke with Thursday. "You'd have better odds of a guy coming out as a member of Al-Qaeda."

For years, there have been lurid rumours the NHL has had some gay players in its midst, and you'd undoubtedly recognize some of the names consistently bandied about in media circles.

But no player has shown the willingness and/or courage to come out, and though you can't blame them for avoiding the ridicule they'd be subjecting themselves to, it's a real shame nonetheless. I'm sure there are some gay young men playing the game who could use an idol to emulate - and from a business perspective, a gay-friendly NHL could bring in a new, sizeable group of customers to help build league revenues.

However, when hockey people are comparing gays to terrorists, those hopes seem more hopeless than ever. Read more from Adam Proteau at The Hockey News.com

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