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Brent Sopel takes Stanley Cup to Chicago's Pride Parade

Jun 27, 2010, 8:43 PM EDT


Generally when the Stanley Cup makes it’s annual tour around the world each summer, it’s not uncommon for it to be featured in a parade in a player’s hometown. It’s not every day that a member of a championship winning squad can do something to help reach out to a community in a different way however.

That’s what makes now former Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel’s gesture today so special as he escorted the Stanley Cup in today’s Gay Pride parade in Chicago to honor Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke’s son,  Brendan. Brendan Burke was killed in a car accident in February, just three months after coming out to his friends and fellow Miami University hockey team members. Sopel was only more than happy to dedicate this gesture to the Burke family.

“Anybody who has had to bury a child has suffered a heartbreak and this was the first thing that came to mind,” Sopel said. “Everything that happened last year with Brendan coming out last year and dying three months later, it was a tragedy.”

The Burke family was more than supportive of Brendan in coming out and they were moved by Sopel’s gesture in a huge way.

“Our entire family is touched by the kindness of Brent and Kelly Sopel, and that of the Blackhawks,” Burke said Thursday in an e-mail from Los Angeles, where he was attending the league’s draft meetings.

“This is not a small step — it’s a bold and important one. We are grateful that a statement of this magnitude is being made by the Sopels, the Blackhawks and the National Hockey League.”

Homosexuality in sports, college or professional, is a highly taboo subject to say the least and having anyone either playing or in a management position openly come out and express who they are is extremely rare. Brendan Burke in doing so became an instantly identifiable figure and being the son of such a well known figure in hockey figures helped amplify the story.

For Burke to be as open as he was, sadly, may have been risky considering some of the prejudices that still exist today, but the outpouring of emotion and recognition for Brendan following his tragic death (Miami University wore a patch with his initials on their jerseys) showed that perhaps those bad feelings are becoming less apparent in a more progressive era. With moves like Brent Sopel’s today to not only pay tribute to a friend’s son as well as his life, this can be a step towards eliminating some of the awful discrimination that exists in our world.

(Photo courtesy of
  1. Happy Girl - Jun 27, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    Not only does Miami have a patch on their jerseys but there is also the same symbol painted at center ice in Goggin Ice Arena and there is a display in his honor at the rink. Also, Miami’s coach, Rico Blasi, had the right to have the article not printed if he thought it would hurt the team.
    I applaud Brent Sopel and his wife, the Blackhawks and Miami for their tolerance and acceptance.
    The Brotherhood misses you Brendan. Go Miami!

  2. bobn4balls - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    So is Sopel gay now too?

  3. Ash - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:19 PM

    You think anyone will drink beer out of it now?

  4. DB - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:27 PM

    Wow, bobn4balls and Ash, thanks for continuing to display your ignorance and bigotry. Sopel, thank you for your willingness to move forward and show support for ALL fans, regardless of sexuality. I’m not a member of the GLBT community, but I was in the crowd today to see the Cup and I know people were happy to see it there.

  5. pplsk - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:34 PM

    Nice to know not all athletes and sports fans are homophobic jerks.

  6. Anonymous - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:40 PM

    You have a very small brain.

  7. Dave - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:44 PM

    Doncha just love the good, kind-hearted theoretical sports fans who can’t see BALLS when it’s shoved in their face? ’bout time people grew up. Are we REALLY talking about anything OTHER THAN talent, peeps?

  8. Geno - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:45 PM

    Shame on you for even having such a stupid thought

  9. geno - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    Shame on you Ash for those thoughts.. I wonder who you are trying to impress

  10. AJ - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    Sorry Bob, I don’t think Sopel is interested in you.

  11. andreaf - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:59 PM

    Ash I’m guessing you have a tiny penis and a tiny brain to match.
    Men who are secure in their own sexuality don’t need to make such obvious statements to cover their fear.

  12. Paul - Jun 27, 2010 at 11:04 PM

    I’m not witty or cruel enough to put into words exactly what I think you must be like. It’s not something I would ever want to say about another human being, but you’ve earned it. Just think of what it is in this world that you “hate” the most ASH…that’s what I’m thinking you must be. Fill in the blanks with words that I’m sure roll off your filthy tongue every day. You’re disgusting.

  13. Anonymous - Jun 27, 2010 at 11:50 PM

    as bleep homophobe

  14. heyoh - Jun 28, 2010 at 12:58 AM

    what if sopel is gay? what if any of the blackhawks are gay? it wouldn’t fricken matter because they won anyways!
    by being offended by gay jokes, you become the homophobe

  15. michelle yde boden - Jun 28, 2010 at 1:00 AM

    This story makes me even prouder than I already am of Chicago being my home town. Congratulations to Brent Sopel and the Blackhawks. What a class organization!

  16. Andrew V. - Jun 28, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    While I agree that “bobn4balls” made a very immature comment just to get a reaction, I also think he asked a very legitimate question. A percentage of all groups of people are gay and the NHL is no exception.
    Does anyone know if Brent Sopel is gay, and if he is…or is not, does it matter? I wondered the same myself, as there are gays in the NHL.

  17. Jeff - Jun 28, 2010 at 1:36 AM

    This is a joke what is this world coming to gays always having parades I’m straight why don’t I get a parade

  18. Ken - Jun 28, 2010 at 1:53 AM

    The welcoming roar from the spectators to the Stanley Cup and Brent Sopel was deafening. It takes a lot of class for a professional sports organization to join the pride celebration. The Stanley Cup at a pride parade? That’s unbelievable … hopefully this will open doors and break barriers. BTW, the Cubs also participated with their own float – another historic moment.

  19. Anonymous - Jun 28, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    Sopel is not gay. His wife and children were at the parade with him. Not that it matters, but you asked so there ya go.

  20. mf - Jun 28, 2010 at 2:45 AM

    Homosexuals are still to this day being persecuted and killed for who they are. The Gay Pride Parade came into existence as a peaceful protest to draw attention to this situation, and now the parade has caught on in hundreds of cities around the world. Straights don’t get their parade because there’s no such thing as straightophobia. Jeff, what is the world coming to, you ask? It’s hopefully finally coming to it’s senses by starting to treat every human being, no matter who they are, with the love and equality that they all deserve.
    Way to go Sopel. Good luck in Atlanta….you’ll need it.

  21. A sickening, palpable disgrace. Someday, in the not so distant future, it's going to really rain on - Jun 28, 2010 at 2:52 AM

    see above

  22. Dan - Jun 28, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    One of the best standup comedians once used a joke that I found very funny. The joke was he supported gay marriage because gays have just as much right to be miserable as the rest of us. He used it as a joke but it is actually true. Other reasons now apply but it did strengthen my support. Hope sharing my thought doesn’t offend anyone.

  23. Mike - Jun 28, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    Well said!!

  24. Colton Carter - Jun 28, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    No, he is a man that cares for the welfare of other people… Glad to see this positive story in the news :)

  25. A close relative - Jun 28, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    Of course he is not gay he is just accepting of other people as youshould be

  26. Brad - Jun 28, 2010 at 6:31 PM

    I agree with jeff if you want to be gay that’s alright but don’t be a fag there is a diff and all these people at the parade are fags they give everybody that is gay a bad name Stay home and have fun in hell

  27. Shannon - Jun 28, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    I was at the parade and I’m not gay, or a “fag.” I missed the Blackhawks rally and wanted to see the Stanley Cup. And I support equality in my community. If I’m going to hell for that, at least I know I’ll be in good company.

  28. Ross - Jun 28, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    What a class act! Nice to see such a compassionate gesture in the NHL.

  29. Penguin Fan - Jun 28, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    Is Kelly Sopel his wife? Im pretty sure that makes him straight or maybe bi. Read the whole article people.

  30. ziffles - Jun 28, 2010 at 10:11 PM

    Jeff you do have a straight parade 365 days a year. the purpose jeff or as i saw the pride parade is as a gay person you don’t feel so alone and different. Its a horrible feeling jeff. I never wanted to be gay and you’ll just have to trust me on this bud I never had a choice. And anything you see on the front page of some news paper or T.v. show doesn’t represent everybody. What you learn there is that theres all kinds of different people that make up ANY community. I love seeing at pride in Toronto all the young straight couples coming down to dance and have fun with all of us.By the way being Canadian, hockey is in my Blood and i come from a Hockey family.

  31. Angi - Jun 28, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    My husband the Canadian had this to say. Maybe we should all drink pink champagne out of the cup to celebrate gay rights. He’s the smartest man in the world as far as I am concerned. I have to say I am a hater and you are an ass. Hope that works for you but I have a feeling it won’t

  32. nick61 - Jun 29, 2010 at 12:34 AM

    Supporting an UN-NATURAL sexually deviant act (SODOMY) is almost as sick as the ones perpetrating the act! On the bright side, it is good to know these degenerates cannot re-produce!

  33. Heath - Jun 29, 2010 at 12:43 AM

    Have fun in hell? Sounds like there really is no difference between gays and fags to you, sir, so don’t sit here and play footsie with us and claim it’s okay to be gay so long as you’re not a flamer. Do you realize how ridiculous you sound? If you’re going to be a bigot, at least have the conviction of your character to go all the way with it.

  34. Heath - Jun 29, 2010 at 12:52 AM

    Now here’s a homophobe who’s proud of his lunacy! That’s right, brother Nick! Sex should only be between a man and a woman in the missionary position for the sole purpose of procreation. I’m sure everyone will agree with you.

  35. erik - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    sopel has a wife and kids. he lives in hinsdale, il with them. he shops at the whole foods there where my wife works. although recently traded, he tells her that he plans to keep the house in illinois with his family. so… is he gay? i’m guessing no.

  36. FRODO - Jun 29, 2010 at 2:17 PM


  37. Joe - Jun 29, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    Credit to Brent Sopel! Credit to the Hawks! Credit to the NHL! And most of all credit to Chicago… It just proves how much class that City has. When I heard the Cup was going to be in the Parade, but for the fact that I had PRIDE commitments here in NYC, I seriously considered flying out to Chicago to witness the history that occured on Sunday… It had to make you all feel all the more proud! Thanks for setting such a fine example.

  38. Sopes is OK - Jun 29, 2010 at 7:06 PM

    Guys like nick61 who protest the loudest are usually in the closet and ashamed of their homosexuality. WE still love you nick.

  39. ziffles - Jun 29, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    ya nick but what about gay peoples siblings and invertro. and what about adoption like in Canada were its abosolutely legal.A same sex couple( guys) I know have a daughter in a catholic school for what ever reason that won some sort of most christian-like award. should have seen the schools reaction when she introduced her parents, lol. Got news for you bud the only dying breed is people like you.Just a guess here no further than high school education here.oh and all HIGHER mammals have recorded incidents of homosexuality so your Un – natural arguement goes right out the window.Congrats to hawks! with out doubt the BEST team in Hockey and NOW in more ways than ONE!!!!

  40. open society - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:52 AM

    f’ing bigot moron

  41. j. - Jul 1, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    I am a fag (as in, I’m a gay man on the effete side of things who self-identifies as a fag — not every effete-ish gay man does, ymmv, don’t call people words with offensive histories even in a reclamatory sense unless you’ve talked to them first, /disclaimer) and though I didn’t go to the parade, you don’t really have a right to tell people that the people at the parade are giving anybody a bad name. Most Queer people have to stay at least somewhat private (vs straight people, who are free to talk about their s.o. without playing the pronoun game, free to hold their hand or kiss them wherever, bring them home to meet the family, so on) to keep themselves safe, and there is pretty much one time a year* where we don’t have to feel that way, and that day is pride. Sure, some of us celebrate it by getting amazingly drunk, but that’s what most people do when, say, their teams win the Stanley cup.
    But seriously, if you’re going to be a bigot don’t act like you’re being reasonable and only hating on “the fags”. In a political/historical sense? All LGBTQ people are “fags”, and hating just the flamers is the same as hating all of us.
    *NB — and this really only applies to large cities in liberal areas. In some other countries (and even in some other states) people are putting themselves in serious danger by attending pride. I know people who, every year, redraft their wills right before pride in case something bad happens to them while they’re there.

  42. Jen - Jul 1, 2010 at 11:45 PM

    I haven’t seen such ignorant comments in a long time. Breaks my heart.
    There is nothing wrong or dirty about being gay.
    Grow up.

  43. John - Jul 2, 2010 at 2:04 AM

    I saw part of the parade because I was visiting the neighborhood as my son and his wife live just off Diversey and Clark. I thought the parade was great. I thought the involvement of many straight people was great. Brent Sopel isn’t gay, nor is Ernie Banks, who was on the Cubs float.
    People don’t choose to be gay, they are probably born that way. Would you choose to be in a minority that a lot of people ostracize? I mean it’s no different than saying you chose to be black in our country. Who in their right mind would want to make life more frigging difficult than it already is? So if they are human beings and didn’t choose it, just accept that they are different than you are and go on with life. If you don’t know any gays or blacks, your life is not as rich as it otherwise could be.
    I had lived in Chicago for over 50 years and never attended it, because I was sure it would be a turnoff to me. It wasn’t, although there was some weirdness I expected. It wasn’t until Sunday, when I was there, that I got the fact that this is a huge deal for them to feel acceptance on that day. Nobody should try to diminish that. Leave them alone if you can’t say something positive, because you are only showing your disconnection from your fellow humans.

  44. Anonymous - Jul 2, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    I thought I saw Sean Avery in that parade

  45. bobn4boobs - Jul 5, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    i don’t have anything against gay people but dont take the cup to the pride parade im a hawks fan and people give me so much crap about sopel taking it there im glad he got traded he cant disgrace the cup like that without consulting his teammates and every single fan fucktits asscrouch my balls

  46. ziffles - Jul 5, 2010 at 6:14 PM

    Disgrace the cup?? i’m gettin teased??? I’m a GAY guy and you sound like the FAG!! Don’t be such a pussy! Do you even play Hockey pal cause guess what I do. You go into the corner with me and you ain’t comin out of the corner with the puck. Not just because I’m Canadian and your probably a yank but once again you sound like a pussy! Be a MAN or grow up! I watched an interview with 3 canaidian jr. hockey teams G.M’s. they were asked if they ever had or have any gay players on thier teams that they kept on the low key. They all answered YES! and i know as a fact of two to have played in the NHL and one of them was a 50 Goal scorer and won the stanley cup. Pro-sports like anything emilates society, so there’s alot of gays playin pro-sport. One of them could be a hero of yours, ewwwwww! big deal ! America talks a good talk about freedom and tolerance!! Time to step up to the plate so to speak and do whats right like the Sopel’s!!!!!!

  47. California Girl - Jul 7, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    Hey Bob – guess what? You do hate gays if you believe that taking the cup to a pride parade is “disgracing the cup.”
    You’re the disgrace to Chicago, America, and to humankind.
    Oh, and BTW, sodomy isn’t just between men; the two biggest “wish list” items for straight guys is oral and anal. Did your judgmental god go into details on that one, or can you answer a question without looking to a work of fiction for its opinion?
    PPS – If the only role of humankind is to procreate, than no man should have sex with his wife when she is pregnant. Make sure you don’t do that now, ya hear? Your invisible friend in the sky might wag his finger and send you to a (non-existant) hell!

  48. bobn4boobs - Jul 8, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    ha i love pissing people off like i said i dont have anything against gay people i just hear so much shit about sopel doing this and i moved to st louis when i was fucking 7 so dont tell me im a disgrace to the best city in the fucking world plus im only 13 so if i was to get beat up by a guy who im guessing is at least 18 i wouldnt look like much of a pussy i dont think disgraced was a good word i just meant he kinda made it easy for fans of other teams to make fun of hawks fans shit be as gay as you want i dont give a fuck as long as you dont try anything on me we can be best fucking friends and (non-existant) hell did i just get told off by an athiest

  49. Toews_Kane_Sharp - Jul 14, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    Way to go DB…It’s sad when there is such bigotry. What Brent and Kelly did, is one reason why the Hawks fans were endeared to the Sopel family. That took guts, and shows the character of Sopel. re

  50. Adam - Jul 14, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    For the record, Sopel did this as a tribute to a friend of his that was gay and recently passed away. They attend PRIDE in his honor every year, and this year they did it with Lord Stanley in tow. Props to Sopel for standing up for his beliefs. Let the bigots and small minded individuals like Bob up there think what he wants. They are going to be small minded for the rest of their lives until they open their own eyes and see the nature of the world today.

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