Another Russian NHL Player Opts Out Of Team’s ‘Pride Night,’ This Time For The Buffalo Sabres

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An ongoing theme in the NHL this season has been the handling of team’s “Pride Night” activities. Like most major American corporations, the NHL thinks it needs to virtue-signal and pander. So, they push things like “Pride Night” onto players and fans.

Except, despite pushing the idea of “diversity” in every area of its business, the NHL fails to note the diversity among its players. Notably, that some countries and cultures do not subscribe to the same morals and values.

For example, several Russian-born NHL players have discussed fear of retribution should they take part in these “Pride Night” activities.

The latest comes from Buffalo where Sabres player Ilya Lyubushkin is “citing an anti-gay Kremlin law and fears of retribution at home in Russia for electing not to participate in the Buffalo Sabres’ pregame warmup on the team’s Pride night” according to ESPN.

Ilya Lyubushkin of the Buffalo Sabres skates up the ice. Lyubushkin is refusing to take part in the team's "Pride Night" activities.
Ilya Lyubushkin of the Buffalo Sabres skates up the ice. Lyubushkin is refusing to take part in the team’s “Pride Night” activities. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)

Can’t wait for Sarah Spain to call him a “bigot.”

Or for NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly to call him a liar.

OutKick’s Matt Reigle previously reported an email sent by Daly to The Athletic that read, in part, “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.”

That seems to directly contradict Lyubushkin’s claims.

NHL “Pride Night” activities are causing more harm than good for the league, teams and players

Either way, these NHL “pride-themed” events have been an abject disaster. They only make news when players — or teams — refuse to take part, which draws negative attention onto the league.

Those who argue that teams need to force players to take part — largely people who don’t watch hockey, by the way — are mad that the NHL doesn’t actually force them to participate.

But those who argue that the NHL shouldn’t have “Pride Night” in the first place are mad that the league and teams continue to push them through despite the obvious pushback.

Luckily, the majority of hockey fans — like myself — lie somewhere in the middle. Have your “Pride Night,” don’t have your “Pride Night,” I don’t care. Players wants to participate, go ahead. If they don’t, sit it out.

Just drop the damn puck and keep your politics out of my hockey, please.

Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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  1. Lefties will simultaneously call these player bigots, while also calling Putin ‘Hitler 2.0’. As always, they think they can have their cake and eat it too. It’s up to society to prove to them that they, like everybody else in the world, cannot.

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