Report: Blackhawks nix Pride jerseys out of security concerns for Russian players
The Chicago Blackhawks won't wear Pride jerseys during warmup for Sunday's game against the Vancouver Canucks, citing security interests for their Russian players, team sources told The Athletic's Mark Lazerus.
The decision came from the team's front office, which consulted with security officials both inside and outside the organization, according to the Associated Press' Jay Cohen.
Chicago has three players with Russian heritage or family on its roster: Nikita Zaitsev, Philipp Kurashev, and Anton Khudobin. Russia passed a law in December to criminalize LGBTQ+ "propaganda" on any platform.
In January, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to wear a Pride jersey due to his Russian Orthodox religious beliefs, but the rest of his teammates participated. Afterward, the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild - two teams with prominent Russian players - decided against wearing the jerseys on their scheduled Pride nights.
Most recently, goaltender James Reimer was the lone San Jose Shark to sit out his club's Pride night warmup over the weekend, citing his Christian faith.
The Blackhawks will still host Pride Night on Sunday despite not donning rainbow-colored uniforms.
The club released a statement Wednesday addressing their intentions:
"Together, our activities will focus on fostering conversation and more equitable spaces in our pursuit to make hockey more inclusive. We do not condone anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric, and we stand firmly with the community.
"While we know game day celebrations like these are an important way we can use our platform to bring visibility, it is the work we do together 365 days a year that can create true impact in ensuring all of our colleagues, fans and communities feel welcomed and safe within our sport."
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