Bettman defends NHL's handling of Pride night situations
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at his state of the game news conference Saturday at All-Star Weekend defended the way the league and two teams handled situations that arose regarding Pride night celebrations.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov did not take part in warmups Jan. 18 because he refused to wear a Pride-themed jersey. Nine days later, the New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night despite previously advertising they planned to do so.
Bettman said tolerance of varying viewpoints was part of being “open, welcoming and inclusive.”
“You know what our goals, our values and our intentions are across the league, whether it’s at the league level or at the club level,” he said. “But we also have to respect some individual choice, and some people are more comfortable embracing themselves in causes than others. And part of being diverse and welcoming is understanding those differences.”
Bettman said the NHL was not accepting bigotry or promoting homophobia. Provorov cited his Russian Orthodox religion for his decision, which coach John Tortorella supported, while the Rangers said in a statement: "Our organization respects the LGBTQ+ community and we are proud to bring attention to important local community organizations as part of another great Pride Night. In keeping with our organization’s core values, we support everyone’s individual right to respectfully express their beliefs.”