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

Pride Night, an annual event held for several years by National Hockey League teams to show support for the LGBTQ community, has been thrust into the limelight following several high-profile incidents this season.

Some players have objected to attending pregame warmups that include pride-themed jerseys, most recently Florida’s Eric and Mark Stahl on Thursday night.

On Wednesday, the Chicago Blackhawks decided not to let players wear Pride-themed warm-up jerseys at their next Pride Night, citing anti-gay laws in Russia.

The Stahl brothers, James Reimer of San Jose (Canadian) and Ivan Provorov of Philadelphia (Russian) all cited their religious beliefs as reasons for refusing to participate in the warm-up.

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Eric and Marc Stahl said in a statement, “We make no judgments about how people choose to live their lives and believe that everyone should be welcome in every aspect of the game of hockey. “That said, I feel it goes against our Christian beliefs by us wearing our pride jerseys.”

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NHLer James Rymer refuses to wear the Pride jersey, citing his Christian beliefs.

The Blackhawks act out of concern that the safety of a Russian player and two others with ties to Russia could be at risk when they return home as they expand restrictions to support LGBTQ rights. bottom.

Chicago coach Luke Richardson said he and his players were disappointed.

“This is an unfortunate situation,” said Richardson. “It takes it out of our hands because we don’t think we can control the world’s problems.”

The New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild decided not to wear pride-themed jerseys after they advertised they would wear them during warm-ups. Each team has at least one Russian star player on their roster, but neither has given a reason for the change.

Is this related to Russia’s war in Ukraine?

somewhat. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, combined with the anti-gay legislation signed by Vladimir Putin last December, has created some problems for the NHL and its 32 teams.

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No North American professional sports league has as many Russian players as the NHL. The Russian contingent includes some of the league’s best athletes.

Click to play video: 'NHL player Curtis Gabriel aims to make league more welcoming to LGBTQ community'

NHL player Curtis Gabriel aims to make league more welcoming to LGBTQ community

Currently, there are 45 Russian-born players in 28 teams, about 6.4% of all players. They include Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals’ career second-leading goalscorer, two-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender for Tampa Bay, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Lightning teammate and 2019 MVP Nikita. Kucherov, including Igor Shesterkin, Vezina Trophy winner of the New York Rangers.

The average salary of the top five Russian players this season is $11.1 million.

Russian players rarely talk about war. This is also because we are concerned about the safety of our loved ones at home. It was not clear whether there was a credible threat behind the Blackhawks’ decision.

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What is the history of the NHL with pride?

The Stanley Cup first appeared at the 2010 Pride Parade and was brought to the celebration in Chicago by then-Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel. Years later, in 2013, the league partnered with the You Can Play Project to advocate for his LGBTQ participation in sports. The NHL added team his Pride his ambassador for 2016-17.

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Players can decide what cause to support after Provorov opts out of Pride Nights: NHL.

The Rainbow Pride Stick Tape debuted in 2016 with the Edmonton Oilers. All 32 teams currently have Pride Nights, but many do so without themed jerseys. The Boston Bruins and Columbus Blues His Jackets call their night “Hockey is for everyone.”

Pride Nights, like other themed events, are planned and staged by individual teams, not by the NHL.

what is the reaction?

The You Can Play Project responded that they were disappointed with Reimer’s decision.

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“Religion and respect are not mutually exclusive. We are certainly disappointed when religion is used as an excuse not to support our community,” the organization said.

Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop made history as the first player to sign an NHL contract to come out as gay in 2021.

What did league officials say?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said a boycott is not about accepting bigotry.

Bettmann said last month, “Whether you choose to embrace it positively and make a statement for the cause, choosing not to do so doesn’t necessarily make you a bigot. “I’m sure you don’t endorse every charity you solicit and don’t participate in every social cause. Pick and choose what’s important to you. Please.”

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The league declined to comment on the Blackhawks’ decision.

With Pride Night approaching, teams have to make a few decisions. The Buffalo Sabers will have their event on Monday and the Vancouver Canucks on his March 31st. Each team has at least one Russian player of his.

It wasn’t clear if players would wear the Pride jersey during warmups, as the team has done in the past.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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