In recent weeks, three different NHL teams have blamed their string of Pride Night debacles on Russia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws. But one of the league’s top execs say there’s zero evidence to support those ridiculous claims.
When the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild abandoned their plans for players to wear Pride warmup jerseys, it was reported they were trying to protect their Russian-born players.
Vladimir Putin has passed a string of laws that restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ people, including a rule that makes it “illegal to spread ‘propaganda’ about ‘nontraditional sexual relations,'” according to the New York Times.
The Blackhawks and Wild were both concerned that players who wear Pride jerseys could be prosecuted for spreading “gay propaganda,” The Athletic reported at the time.
Then on Monday, the Buffalo Sabres allowed Russian defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin to skip their Pride warmup skate, citing safety concerns.
About five percent of the NHL is Russian.
But the league office isn’t backing up these dubious tales. When asked about the issue, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the NHL isn’t aware of any Russian players being in danger for supporting Pride.
“We take all risks seriously, and this one is no different,” he wrote in an email to The Athletic. “Having said that, we have no information that would suggest there is any material threat that would exist [in Russia or otherwise] related to a Russian player participating in a club’s Pride activities.”
So, there you have it, folks: the league’s second-in-command disproved that bogus Putin excuse in just two sentences.
The notion that Putin’s anti-gay laws, passed more than 5,500 miles away, ever factored into NHL teams’ decisions on how to celebrate Pride nights was always a stretch. As Outsports points out, at least six Russian players have worn Pride warmup jerseys this year.
There’s also the fact that Chicago hosted a “Ukrainian Heritage Night” March 4, which we’re guessing would probably piss off Putin, too.
All in all, it’s been a disastrous Pride Night campaign for the NHL, with multiple players refusing to wear Pride warmup jerseys and continuing a disheartening trend of pro athletes opting out of Pride celebrations. Most of them cite religion as the reason for their homophobia.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, for instance, was the first player to not wear an LGBTQ-themed warmup jersey, saying it was against his beliefs as a Russian Orthodox. Then the New York Rangers abandoned their Pride warmup jerseys altogether.
Over the last two weeks, San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer also didn’t wear his Pride jersey, and neither did the Florida Panthers’ Eric and Marc Steele. All three players also used the Bible as a shield.
Pride Nights are supposed to make LGBTQ+ sports fans feel comfortable at games. But teams capitulating to players’ anti-gay bigotry accomplishes the opposite. And the fact that NHL clubs are happy to court the pink dollar but not protect their gay fans is downright insulting.
Thanks to Daly, however, they can’t hide behind Putin anymore.
Here’s what folks are saying on Twitter about this ongoing debacle…
I think that a player is fully within their rights to not wear a pride warmup jersey. However, I think choosing not to wear the jersey just shows that you’re a bigoted dipshit. I will give a bit of leeway to Russian players, as the Russian government is famously unpredictable when it comes to symbolic punishments (i.e. Brittney Griner).
Also, it’s the Staal brothers, not the Steel brothers. They’ve absolutely tanked their legacy up in Canada, and will likely lose out on millions of dollars worth of broadcasting or executive jobs because of their small-minded stance.
While I don’t particularly disagree with much of what you wrote, the “symbolic punishment” BS concerning that nitwit Brittney Griner, I just can’t pass up.
Her arrest, for trying to bring a controlled substance into Russia, was her own fault and happened well before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While it could be argued that the Russian laws on what constitute a dangerous drug could be called into questioned and criticized, her arrest was her own fault and no one else’s.
Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
Her being stupid doesn’t make her a victim, it just makes her stupid.
After a hard days work, I sometimes like to relax with a hit or two myself in the evening, but when I travel to Kenya in a couple of months, I know not to bring any of that crap with me. Besides, the natives I’ll be working with, will probably have better stuff than I could bring.
I think you misunderstand what I’m saying. I agree that her arrest wasn’t symbolic. She broke the law in a stupid way. However, the severity of her punishment was used as a political weapon
@ottovan- I understood perfectly well what you were implying and my point still stands. She wouldn’t have been in the situation at all if she hadn’t broken the law and there were far better people than her the Biden administration should have negotiated a release for, in such a high stake prisoner exchange.
We don’t need bigots wearing rainbows because their employer forced them. That’s not real allyship. Decorate the stadium or fly a flag instead. Or just do literally nothing — the theater of it all is so fake anyway.
I can agree with this. It would be much better to see the team decide on their own to show support, for any group or anything, than to be pressured into it. And yes, sometimes doing literally nothing is much better than creating negativity. I bristled this morning when I saw the news out of Nashville indicating that the school shooter was Trans. My first thoughts were you never see a report stating that the shooter was heterosexual so why include the Trans status in the description. I then realized, we can’t demand acknowledgement for positive attributes without expecting the negative ones also. Not at all saying Trans status indicates school shooter capabilities, just pointing out that this is actually a good example of just how much the LGBTQ community is just like the Hetero community. They both have their great qualities but they both also have a few bad players and sexual orientation has nothing to do with weather or not you might choose to shoot up a school.
I’ve been fuming. My garbage collection team still hasn’t worn rainbow colors to empty the trash bins!
Bigots! When are they going to acknowledge and show support for my sex life!?!
That’s odd, our garbage men seemed enthusiastic to haul away all the rainbow paraphernalia we tossed out this weekend as a show of support for Let Women Speak.
I’ve not heard or seen one gender/trans activist support the gay/lesbian community or even acknowledge the innate immutability of our same sex attraction. Actually, I’ve heard quite the opposite coming from them.
However… I have repeatedly heard support coming from the let women speak organization, who want nothing more than to preserve their own identity and the spaces and rights they have fought so hard for.
Fname Optional Lname
When people think of a straight couple they don’t automatically think of them having sex yet for gay couples that is all that is thought about.
No hotties. So who cares. Rugby the only sport with hot guys.
There’s a lot of prejudice against hockey players – not being smart and all that, so you would think that this wouldn’t be a step too far to support others who suffer from prejudices.
Also, I think any Russian citizens playing in the NHL should be put on indefinite leave for the duration of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine – I’d make it unpaid leave, but that’s just me – it’s up to the team. Lots of “individuals” in Ukraine have and are suffering at the hands of the Russian aggressors, so I don’t think acting against Russian individuals in sports held in Nato countries is any different than acting against any Ukrainian civilian (by say, bombing them) – Russian athletes should be banned for the duration, in my opinion.
As for recognition, acceptance, and welcoming of the NHL’s LGBTQ fans, it may be two skates backward, one skate forward for awhile, but let the struggle continue.
Yeah, we should round them up like we did any Japanese that were within our borders, during world war 2, and put them in concentration camps. That’ll teach ’em from daring to share a nationality with whomever we are in conflict with at any given moment.
I think a better question here is: Why is it that so many LGBTQIA+ people are such totalitarian, goose stepping fascist?
I have one question for you Fahd, why isn’t it good enough for you, that these sport organizations even have a Pride event, when the majority of the players are str8?
Keep biting the extended hand of friendship that’s offered and pretty soon it will lash out back at you!
Yeah we don’t have the same religious beliefs, but “Love one Another” would be a good one to embrace.