I hope the days of tolerance in hockey aren't too far away. I am intrigued by this subject, actually, after I read this article in 2005.
As a microcosm of larger society in which gay rights are still a hotly contested topic, the NHL, some say, shouldn't be far behind in the growing acceptance of the gay population. However, sports are always different when it comes to stuff like this - especially sports, in fact. The idea of "manliness" and "toughness" that define sports like hockey and all those who participate in it come in direct conflict with stereotypes about gay people, who are considered "feminine" and "weak", which translate into things that do not or cannot exist in the NHL. While this close-minded approach persists, the ego of professional athletes who assume that any gay player on their own team would instantly mean they are trying to check their teammates out and be attracted to them is another ridiculous assumption that gets in the way of equality and openness. The whole idea of "family" also makes it difficult, because traditional relationships of male/female, whether it be dating or marriage, is a big part of team functions. And sometimes, player views on gay teammates may be unconscious reactions that are a result of being raised in an intolerant culture, no matter how hard they try to be accepting.
Lots of changes need to take place in hockey - on the ice (new Shanabanning, for example) and off the ice. As far as gay players coming out of the closet, my own personal insatiable curiosity and nosiness makes me want to know the specifics, but if a player can come out to his teammates without wanting it to reach the general public, that's fine, too.