After losing 6-0 to the Boston Bruins Monday, Philadelphia Flyers got back in the win column after an impressive 5-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks.
But after the game, no one was talking about hockey, as the success on the ice was completely shadowed by a controversial move by the Flyers, coach John Tortorella, and defenseman Ivan Provorov.
The Flyers held their annual Pride Night to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community, and the Flyers team wore Pride-theme jerseys during warmups.
The players also had rainbow Pride tape wrapped on their sticks, and beloved mascot Griddy was dressed in all rainbow clothes in honor of the special event.
But one player was missing from warmup, and it’s the talk of the NHL right now. Ivan Provorov refused to be a part of the warmup, but when it was time for face-off, he was in the Flyers’ standard jersey, and he was on the ice for almost 23 minutes during the victory.
Ivan Provorov cited his Russian Orthodox religion as why he didn’t participate but didn’t want to talk about it too much with reporters, who also claimed that the Flyers shut down any question about hockey.
“I respect everyone. I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion,” Provorov said.
But before Provorov even spoke to the media about it, Flyers head coach John Tortorella defended his player and praised him for the decision.
“With Provy, he’s being true to himself and to his religion,” Tortorella said. “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 I’m at with that.”
After that, Tortorella refused to talk about it and instead pointed to the success on the ice.
The Philadelphia Flyers also released a statement.
”The Philadelphia Flyers organization is committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community. Many of our players are active in their support of local LGBTQ+ organizations, and we were proud to host our annual Pride Night again this year. The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community,” a spokesman said.
On social media, NHL fans have criticized Tortorella for his decision to play Provorov despite him sitting out the warmups. They also slammed the decision of the coach to defend his player.
Scott Wheeler, NHL reporter for The Athletic, said, ”A free first question at Torts’ next media availability: “What was the difference between you threatening to bench players for kneeling during the national anthem, and Ivan Provorov being ‘true to himself’?”
What’s your thoughts on this?