I read ancient THNs when I'm on the elliptical trainer, and there was an interesting bit in the editorial (May 4, 2004):
The overtone in the Danton case is homosexuality, though several people close to Danton have denied he is gay. Either way, the door was opened on the issue and the question was raised: what would the reaction in the hockey community be towards an openly gay player?
It's a question worth asking since it's a statistical probability there are several closeted players in the NHL.
When the Danton story became public, three of his Blues teammates--Doug Weight, Chris Pronger and Bryce Salvador--suggested they'd be comfortable with a homosexual teammate. We're inclined to believe they're among the majority.
Certainly, it would take a man with the elements most admired in NHLers--courage, grit, determination and heart--to come "out". He'd be the object of ridicule among small-minded fans and would probably take a verbal beating from some opponents on the ice. If some players have no aversion to resorting to racism as part of their trash talk, they're not going to think twice about wearing their homophobia on their sleeves. And to be sure, some teammates may be uncomfortable in the beginning.
But we believe, in general terms, today's players are more cosmopolitan and accepting than their predecessors. Barriers have eroded in society and professional hockey players aren't immune to the values of the world around them. Dressing room humor still exists, but that's bound to be the case wherever groups of men regularly congregate. It's not a sign of intolerance, more of peer pressure and cheap laughs.
Hopefully, a fear of being "outed" wasn't at the core of Danton's descent into hell. We may never know, which, in itself, is a sad reflection.
In response to my weekend of debauchery, I've decided to make this a two pound week.