Last week, the Chicago Gay Hockey Association issued an invite to the Blackhawks and the Stanley Cup to join them at the parade. They were hopeful, but "we know the realistic chances of them joining us for the Pride Parade are slim," CGHA President Andrew Sobotka told Michael Sneed last week. Blackhawks President John McDonough is rerouting the Stanley Cup from the NHL draft in L.A. to the parade Sunday; and Blackhawk defenseman Brent Sopel has volunteered to represent the team.
"I am honored to do it," said Sopel, who will be accompanied by wife, Kelly, and his four kids..."The power of the Cup is incomprehensible, and we recognize the importance of doing this," said McDonough, who has arranged for the Stanley Cup to be flown back from the National Hockey League draft in Los Angeles 15 hours early. "It's important for the city and important for the franchise."
Sopel also is marching in honor of Brendan Burke, the son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, who was killed in a car accident two months after coming out late last year. "When Brendan came out, Brian stood by him, and his whole family stood by him, like every family should," said Sopel. "We teach our kids about accepting everybody. Tolerate everybody, to understand where everyone is coming from."
Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs are also breaking down a barrier: For the first time in the parade's history, the Cubbies are going to have a float in the parade and super Cubbie Ernie Banks will be on it. "The team is playing Sunday, so they can't be there," said Cubs spokesman Mike Lufrano. It will also be the first float sponsored by any major Chicago sports team.