Confession: I REALLY enjoyed that shootout last night! I am semi-ashamed to admit it, only because I am like a grumpy old man when it comes to this nouveau aspect of the game. But eight rounds in and my nail-biting habit was in FULL force.

I liked that Louie LeBlanc got a chance to shoot in front of the home crowd (even if he didn’t get a shot off), I like that Carey *finally got a shootout win, but I don’t like that the Habs lost two leads last night. When you go into OT because you scored an equalizer, any extra point is gravy. But when when you go into extra time because you are the team that couldn’t close the deal, it’s disappointing that you gave your opponents a point.

In other news, Lil’Jon is a Habs fan? I’m 100% not being racist, but this is shocking. He’s from ATLANTA – the same city who just had their team relocated to Winnipeg. I’m thrilled he’s a Habs fan, but I am extremely curious to know how this came about. Why the Habs? It would be like me being a huge FC Dallas fan – how would that happen? There’d obviously be a great story behind it.

Even though this is a Morning After blog post, I would like to take the time to address an issue Brian Burke brought up last week on the Strombo show, and again was talked about Monday on The Kaufman Show (which, on a side note, is one hell of a show on TSN990. Monday nights at 11pm I believe).

Those who know me rarely tag me as a “political” individual. Yes I am hard headed and usually too aggressive in my requests, but “political” I am not. This is mainly due to the fact that I am only fluent in hockey and online marketing. Deviate from those topics and I am like a lost puppy.

But, there is one issue that really gets me going and that is gay athletes who feel scared to come out. I’ve written about it before, but it breaks my heart every time I think about it. To have a man like Brian Burke adamently encourage the idea for a gay NHL’er to come out makes me want to cheer for the hated Leafs. In fact, it almost makes me want to buy a Leaf’s jersey (KIDDING!).

I would love an NHL’er, in the height of his career come out and say “I’m gay, I’m awesome, and I could likely kick your ass on or off the ice”. But, for it to happen in hockey is going to be very hard.

…and not for the usual “hockey is an old boys club” reasoning, but because hockey is such a team-first sport that regardless of any homophobia, this individual would likely be more scared of becoming a distraction to the team. In hockey, being a “distraction” is the worst label there is.

Any time any player in this league comes out and says something remotely outside of ”we need to skate hard and get pucks to the net” it becomes a media frenzy (see Thomas, Tim and the White House). Any after game interview, any pre-game interview, whether with the player himself, his team-mates or his coach will centre on the “coming-out”. While trying to be bigger than the game in a really wonderful way, this player will become the focal point, and if you become the focal point for anything but hockey, you become “a distraction”.

So, dear future NHL player who will become my hero:

I know you are out there. It’s impossible for you not to be.

I realize that not only will you have to come to terms with being the only active gay athlete in the major four sports, but you will also have to come to terms with being labelled “a distraction”, which for you is likely worse. Know this though, you will likely save the life of a teenage boy, or two, or a dozen. You will be remembered for the rest of your days as one of the most influential individuals of our time. Regardless of your performance on the ice, you will be loved as a person, not just as a hockey player, and you will single handily own the gay-athlete market – i.e. lots and lots and lots of money (which isn’t the most important thing I know, but it is a nice bonus).

But more importantly, do it for yourself. Think of the liberation! Think of that GIANT weight being lifted off your shoulders. It’s hard to explain, but your whole world, regardless of other people’s drama, becomes lighter. You will feel such a relief that it won’t even matter what other’s think, you’ll be too happy.

Besides, the worst that can happen is that you get traded to a gay friendly city like Montreal where people will be too occupied with your inability to speak French to focus on anything else…