As individual players continue to publicly opt out of wearing an LGBT “Pride”-themed warm-up jersey for religious reasons, behind the scenes, multiple teams have also decided that ditching the controversial theme altogether was a smarter move, either because of player refusals or to avoid a public relations black eye.
The Blaze The Minnesota Wild were the latest team to scrap “Pride” celebrations by way of rainbow-themed warm-up jerseys, a move that prompted Yahoo News to ask “whether the league’s ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ initiative is anything more than empty words.” This was despite the fact that the “Pride Night” was still recognized by the organization.
In February 2023, the New York Islanders continued their policy of not wearing the jerseys, stating so in advance. The team’s captain, Anders Lee, even gave public statements on behalf of the organization. “For us here in this room, we take care of what we can here and obviously very supportive of the LGBTQ+ community and do what we can to include them in our game,” Lee told the New York Post..
Unlike the Rangers, who last month pulled their plans to wear their rainbow gear without explanation, the Islanders have never worn rainbow jerseys due to an organization policy against wearing specialized warm-ups. The only ones they wear are produced by the league: Hockey Fights Cancer, Military and Saint Patrick’s Day.
The Islanders also won’t be using the rainbow tape, which is commonly used during Pride nights throughout the league, during their pregame warm-ups Thursday.
ESPN The Chicago Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against the visiting Vancouver Canucks because of security concerns involving a Russian law that expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQIA+ rights in the country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December that significantly expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBT rights in the country. Chicago defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country.
The decision by the Blackhawks comes after San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys.
The New York Rangers had a “Pride Night” in late January 2023, complete with a ceremony that stood the American flag with the pride and transgender flags. However, the lack of bright-colored jerseys still caused an uproar, with one reporter from the Athletic saying the Rangers were catering to “what was likely a small minority.”
The New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their Pride Night in January despite previously advertising that plan.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov did not participate in warmups before the team’s home game against the Ducks on Tuesday night because he refused to wear a Pride Night jersey and use sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape. Provorov, who said he is Russian Orthodox, cited his religious beliefs as why he chose not to partake in the warm-ups.