Due to the response from several NHL players outright refusing to don their pride-themed attire, the league is reportedly considering the cancellation of all pride night events for its games.
Last week, a pair of brothers that are teammates playing for the NHL’s Florida Panthers refused to don the team’s pride-themed sweaters as part of the team’s warmup skate, stating that it was against their religious beliefs. Marc and Eric Staal stood alongside San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, who had also chosen to participate in the team’s warmups wearing pride-themed jerseys.
This past Monday, Gary Bettman, the Commissioner of the NHL, spoke up to suggest that the league could soon outright cancel 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 went on.
After the two Staal brothers outright refused to wear the pride-themed sweater, they claimed:
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 previously 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,” expressed the Russian Orthodox Provorov this past January after refusing to wear 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,” explained John Tortorella, the head coach of the Flyers.