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Add two more people to the growing list of NHL players who just want to play hockey.
Panthers stars Eric and Marc Staal did not participate in warmups ahead of the team’s Pride Night game against the Maple Leafs Thursday night. In a joint statement, the brothers cited their Christian faith as their reason for not wearing the rainbow jerseys.
“After many thoughts, prayers and discussions, we have chosen not to wear a pride jersey tonight,” they said. “We carry no judgment 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.”
The Staals are just the latest to protest Pride jerseys across the league.
In January, Flyers defender Ivan Provorov skipped warmups and refused to wear the team’s Pride Night jerseys ahead of a matchup with the Sharks.
San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer also declined to participate in his teams LGBTQ+ festivities.
Also this week, the Chicago Blackhawks decided to forego their planned Pride Night over concerns for their Russian players’ safety.
Pride Jerseys Have Become A Hot-Button Issue
Teams have been holding Pride Nights to acknowledge the LGBTQ+ community for years. This year, the rainbow-colored jerseys that are usually worn for warm-ups have gotten increased attention.
The Staal brothers said they would not comment further on the issue. But we know the media won’t leave this one alone.
While the religious objection would be seen by many as a reasonable — and Constitutionally protected — personal decision, it has sent left-wing reporters and analysts into a tizzy.
Perhaps wanting to not force their players into similar situations several other teams — including the Rangers, Islanders, and Wild — scrapped their Pride jerseys altogether.
But the Panthers were all in.
“As an organization, we have decided — and rightfully so — to move forward with it and support it and celebrate it,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said.
But Maurice did acknowledge his players’ right to make their own decisions.
“Teams around the league and players around the league, they’ve got the right to their opinion, and we’ve got the right to ours,” he said. “But I’ve seen the sweaters. They’re great looking, and it should be a great night tonight.”
The Panthers are auctioning off the warmup jerseys autographed by the player who wore them. The proceeds raised will benefit You Can Play, an organization that works to “ensure safety and inclusion” in hockey.
Neither Eric nor Marc Staal have a jersey on the auction site.
2 CommentsLeave a Reply
Good on the NHL players for realizing they can push back against the coerced endorsement of deviancy. The rest of professional sports – and America – needs to do the same.
The NHL need to stop pandering to the gay community. This will continue until more players start pushing back.