Burke weighs in on Simmonds-Avery incident

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 PM ET

OTTAWA - Brian Burke is in Sean Avery’s corner.

Though the National Hockey League could not prove that Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds used a homophobic slur against Avery of the New York Rangers in a game on Monday night, Burke, the Maple Leafs general manager, is glad Avery did not leave the alleged incident on the ice.

“I have no problem with that,” Burke said. “I think Sean Avery’s record in this area is pretty strong in terms of making statements on behalf of the LBGT (lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender people), he has been terrific.”

Burke’s son, Brendan, who was openly gay, died in a car accident in February 2010.

Homophobic slurs have become a part of the verbal jousting that often happens between players on the ice, and Burke wants to see the comments end.

NHL executive Colin Campbell released a statement on Tuesday stressing that comments that are socially or morally inappropriate or potentially hurtful, including as it may relate to sexual orientation, is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

In other words, disciplinary action will be taken if it can be proven a player used a homophobic slur.

“I think it’s the right step,” Burke said. “Sport has to move that way. We want our game open to everybody and we want everyone to feel welcome when they play the game. I think it was an important day today.

“I do believe a lot of this is habitual. It has to stop.”


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