NHL to ‘Evaluate’ Pride Nights

News: US News
by Hunter Bradford  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 30, 2023   

Commissioner says players' decisions must be respected

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OTTAWA, Ontario - (ChurchMilitant.com) The National Hockey League's commissioner is reconsidering LGBT "pride nights" after several players have refused to participate.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman commented on Monday, "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." 


NHL commissioner Gary Bettman

(Photo: NHL.com)

He acknowledged, 

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.

Bettman's response is years in the making. On Jan. 8, 2020, the Philadelphia Flyers hosted their annual pride night, in which players wore jerseys with rainbow-colored numbers during warmups before facing off against the Anaheim Ducks. Defenceman Ivan Provorov sat out of the warmups and cited his Russian Orthodox faith, saying, "I respect everybody, and I respect everybody's choices, and my choice is to stay true to myself and my religion."

Provorov's coach, John Tortorella, respected his player's decision, affirming, "He's being true to himself and to his religion. One thing I respect about Provy, he's always true to himself." Later, he doubled down on these comments, reiterating, "Provy did nothing wrong. Just because you don't agree with his decision doesn't mean he did anything wrong."

John Tortorella: Flyers' Ivan Provorov 'did nothing wrong' with Pride Night boycott | NY Post Sports

Just a couple of weeks ago, San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer also refused to take part in his team's LGBT activities.

Reimer's situation also involved the refusal to wear pride-themed jerseys during warmups. Citing his Protestant religious beliefs, Reimer opted out: "In this specific instance, 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."

We feel that by us wearing a pride jersey it is against our Christian beliefs.

On March 23, Florida Panthers players Eric Staal and Matt Staal both declined to wear gay-themed jerseys in their team's warmup against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The brothers issued a statement to the media: "We carry no judgment on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey." They further declared, "Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a pride jersey it is against our Christian beliefs."

And on March 27, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin chose to skip his team's warmups. 

But while some individual players are skipping the pro-sodomy warmups, some teams in the league, like the New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks don't have pro-LGBT jerseys at all.

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