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In the wake of several NHL players refusing to wear pride-themed attire, the league is reportedly considering shelving Pride night events at its games.
Last week, two brothers who are teammates on the NHL’s Florida Panthers refused to wear a pride-themed sweater during the team’s warmup skate, citing their religious beliefs. Eric and Marc Staal joined San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, who had also refused to take part in warmups with pride-themed jerseys.
On Monday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman seemingly suggested the league might jettison their pride events, telling CTV News, “This is the first time we’ve experienced that, and I think it’s something that we’re going to have to evaluate in the offseason. This is one issue where players for a variety of reasons may not feel comfortable wearing the uniform as a form of endorsement.”
“But I think that’s become more of a distraction now, because the substance of what our teams and we have been doing and stand for is really being pushed to the side for what is a handful of players basically have made personal decisions, and you have to respect that as well,” he continued.
After the Staal brothers refused to wear the pride-themed sweater, they stated:
After many thoughts, prayers and discussions we have chosen not to wear a Pride Night jersey tonight. We carry no judgement on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey. Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a pride jersey it goes against our Christian beliefs. We hope you can respect this statement. We will not be speaking any further on this matter and would like to continue to focus on the game and helping the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup.
Reimer had stated, “I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life. I strongly believe that every person has value and worth and the LGTBQIA+ community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey.”
“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion,” Provorov, who is Russian Orthodox, said in January after eschewing wearing the pride-themed jersey.
“With Provy, he’s being true to himself and his religion. This has to do with his belief and his religion. It’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself. That’s where we’re at with that,” Flyers head coach John Tortorella said.