Controversy is surrounding NHL team Pride night events. What’s going on?

Controversy is surrounding NHL team Pride night events. What’s going on?

Pride nights, held yearly for a number of years by Nationwide Hockey League groups to point out assist for the LGBTQ neighborhood, are within the highlight following a number of high-profile incidents this season.

A handful of gamers have objected to taking part in pregame warmups that included Pride-themed jerseys, most lately Florida’s Eric and Marc Staal on Thursday night.

On Wednesday, the Chicago Blackhawks determined in opposition to having gamers put on Pride-themed warmup jerseys for his or her upcoming Pride night, citing an anti-gay regulation in Russia.

The Staal brothers and San Jose’s James Reimer – who’re Canadian – and Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov, who is Russian, all pointed to their spiritual beliefs for refusing to participate in warmups.

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“We stock no judgement on how folks select to dwell their lives, and imagine that each one folks needs to be welcome in all features of the sport of hockey,” Eric and Marc Staal mentioned in an announcement. “Having mentioned that, we really feel that by us carrying a Pride jersey, it goes in opposition to our Christian beliefs.”

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NHLer James Reimer refuses to put on Pride jersey, citing Christian beliefs

The Blackhawks mentioned they acted out of concern that the protection of their Russian participant and two others with connections to Russia may very well be jeopardized by the regulation once they return dwelling as a result of it expands restrictions on supporting LGBTQ rights.

Chicago coach Luke Richardson mentioned he and his gamers had been disenchanted.

“It’s an unlucky scenario,” Richardson mentioned. “I don’t suppose we will management the world points, in order that takes it out of our fingers.”

The New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild determined not put on Pride-themed jerseys throughout warmups after promoting that they might. Whereas every team has a minimum of one star Russian participant on its roster, neither specified the rationale for the change.


Considerably. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the anti-gay regulation signed by President Vladimir Putin in December have mixed to pose some issues for the NHL and its 32 groups.

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No North American skilled sports activities league has as many Russian gamers because the NHL. The Russian contingent contains a few of the league’s greatest athletes.

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NHL participant Kurtis Gabriel goals to make the league extra welcoming for LGBTQ neighborhood

There are at the moment 45 Russia-born gamers unfold throughout 28 groups, or about 6.4 per cent of all gamers. They embrace No. 2 profession goal-scorer Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay’s two-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning teammate and 2019 MVP Nikita Kucherov and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers.

The highest 5 highest-earning Russian gamers obtain a median annual wage of US$11.1 million this season.

Russian gamers virtually by no means focus on the conflict, partially out of concern for the protection of their family members at dwelling. It was not clear if there was any credible menace behind the Blackhawks’ resolution.

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The Stanley Cup first appeared at a Pride parade in 2010 when then-Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel introduced it to the celebration in Chicago. A number of years later, in 2013, the league partnered with the You Can Play Challenge, which advocates for LGBTQ participation in sports activities. The NHL added team Pride ambassadors in 2016-17.

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Rainbow Pride stick tape debuted with the Edmonton Oilers in 2016. Now all 32 groups maintain a Pride night, although many achieve this with out themed jerseys. The Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets name theirs “Hockey Is For Everybody” night.

Pride nights, like different themed occasions, are deliberate and staged by particular person groups, not the NHL.


The You Can Play Challenge responded to Reimer’s resolution by saying it was disenchanted.

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“Faith and respect usually are not in battle with one another, and we’re actually disenchanted when faith is used as a purpose to not assist our neighborhood,” the group mentioned.

Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop, who in 2021 made historical past as the primary participant signed to an NHL contract to return out as homosexual, known as the Pride night incidents a “step again” for hockey.


NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned the boycotts weren’t about accepting bigotry.

“Whether or not or not you select to embrace and make an announcement on behalf of a trigger affirmatively, when you select not to try this, it doesn’t essentially make you a bigot,” Bettman mentioned final month. “I’m positive you don’t endorse each single charity that solicits you, and also you don’t take part in each social trigger. You choose and select those which might be necessary to you.”

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The league declined to touch upon the Blackhawks’ resolution.

Groups with Pride nights developing have some selections to make. The Buffalo Sabres are set to host their occasion on Monday, and the Vancouver Canucks on March 31. Every team has a minimum of one Russian participant.

It was not clear if gamers would put on Pride jerseys in warmups, because the groups have carried out prior to now.

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