Currently, all of the teams in the NHL hold Pride nights, however some now do so without the themed jerseys as the events are planned by the individual teams, not the league.
League commissioner Gary Bettman said in an interview with CTV News when asked about the players that have refused to wear Pride-themed jerseys this season, "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."
Citing religious beliefs, several players have declined to participate in pre-game warmups while wearing Pride-themed jerseys.
Bettman told the outlet, "This is one issue where players for a variety of reasons may not feel comfortable wearing the uniform as a form of endorsement."
The commissioner continued, "But 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."
Last Thursday night Florida Panthers players Eric and Marc Staal refused to wear the jerseys citing their Christian beliefs.
The pair said in a statement, “We carry no judgement on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey. Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a Pride jersey, it goes against our Christian beliefs.”
Other players have taken similar actions for their religious beliefs such as Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov and San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer. After refusing to wear the Pride jersey, Provorov jerseys immediately sold out online.
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin has announced that he would not take part in the pregame warmup Monday because the team is scheduled to wear Pride jerseys due to fears of retribution at home in Russian because of the Kremlin’s anti-gay law.
The Chicago Blackhawks opted for their players not to wear the Pride-night jerseys citing Russia’s anti-gay law stating that they were concerned for their players safety when they return home.
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