The Chicago Blackhawks have joined a cluster of NHL teams refusing to wear LGBT-themed jerseys during the 2023 season, citing security and safety concerns for Russian players.
The Blackhawks are the fourth team to forego the jerseys, according to the New York Post. The other teams are the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders, and the Minnesota Wild. It was not the players but the front office that made the decision to nix the jerseys, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
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LGBT-themed jerseys have been a contentious topic since the beginning of the year, when Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to participate in his team’s Pride night. The 26-year-old athlete cited his Russian Orthodox religion as the reason for his boycott.
“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices,” he said at the time. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Additionally, San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer refused to wear an LGBT-themed jersey, citing his Christian beliefs. In a statement, he explained he wouldn’t wear the jersey because of his “personal convictions, which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life.”
“For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian — not just in title, but in how I choose to live my life daily,” he said. “I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and follow him.”
“I have no hate in my heart for anyone, and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness,” he added.
As for the Blackhawks’ decision, the organization said in a statement shared with The Athletic: “We do not condone anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric, and we stand firmly with the community.”
“While we know game-day celebrations like these are an important way we can use our platform to bring visibility, it is the work we do together 365 days a year that can create true impact in ensuring all of our colleagues, fans, and communities feel welcomed and safe within our sport,” the statement continued.
Russia, it should be noted, recently enacted legislation criminalizing the promotion of what the law describes as “non-traditional sexual relations,” according to The Guardian.
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