Over the last couple of weeks, there have been huge discussions around themed Pride nights in the NHL. Earlier this season, the Flyers’ Ivan Provorov decided to sit out a warmup just so he wouldn’t need to wear a Pride-themed jersey, and earlier this month, Sharks’ goalie James Reimer did the same thing.
Reimer, just like Porovorv, cited his religious beliefs as the reason for his boycott, but he received massive criticism from experts and other people around the hockey world.
For example, Brian Burke, Pittsburgh Penguins’ President of Hockey Operations, said he was ”extremely disappointed.”
“I wish players would understand that the Pride sweaters are about inclusion and welcoming everybody. A player wearing Pride colors or tape isn’t endorsing a set of values or enlisting in a cause! He is saying you are welcome here. And you are, in every single NHL building,” he said.
But several teams have made the same decision as Reimer this season, removing the Pride jerseys from their themed nights.
Chicago Blackhawks have worn Pride jerseys on Pride Night in previous years but won’t do it this season. Earlier this season, they had special jerseys on warmups during St. Patrick’s Day and Black History Month.
Still, in a statement released Wednesday, they announced they wouldn’t wear the rainbow-colored jerseys against the Canucks on Sunday during the scheduled Pride Night.
The Blackhawks will stave have activities and Pride-related programming for Sunday, but the jerseys won’t be on during warmups. And they claim they have a good reason for it.
Since December, it’s illegal for Russinas to promote or speak positively about LGBTQ relationships. It’s even forbidden to say they’re ”normal.” As the Blackhawks have three players who are Russians or have family in Russia, they’ve decided not to wear the Pride jerseys.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the decision was made after conversations with security officials, as it would lead to concerns for the Russian players’ safety. The newspaper also cited sources saying the front office made the decision, not the players.
Earlier this season, the Rangers, Islanders and Wild also decided not to wear Pride jerseys.