COLUMBUS, Ohio — On the wall above the door which leads the Blue Jackets’ bench at Nationwide Arena, there’s a sign which reads “The best part of any game is the opportunity to play.”
That rings especially true for Blue Jacket forward Scott Hartnell. For several years he’s supported the NHL’s You Can Play initiative, a program to create a more inclusive environment for athletes of all backgrounds and abilities. The program especially rings true for the LBGTQ community. Many cities, like Columbus, have seen growth in their gay hockey organizations. The Columbus Gay/Lesbian Ally Hockey Association is growing in membership and routinely plays at OSU, Nationwide Arena and all across the region.
Hartnell is the Blue Jackets’ local ambassador for the You Can Play program, a similar role to what he served during his playing days in Philadelphia. He says it’s important to spread the message that no matter your skill, your background or who you love you should have access to the game.
The Jackets will host a You Can Play night later this year and Ohio State is hosting their annual Pride Night Saturday when the Buckeyes host Michigan.