(LifeSiteNews) — Thanks to a growing number of players and teams deciding not to wear LGBT-themed jerseys this year, the NHL may discontinue Pride Nights altogether.
“I think it’s something that we’re going to have to evaluate in the offseason,” league commissioner Gary Bettman said in an interview with CTV News in Ottawa this week. It’s “become more of a distraction now.”
Unlike other professional sports, hockey has shown an unusually strong resistance to the woke agenda. According to the Daily Caller, the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks, and Minnesota Wild all decided to not host Pride Night games this season.
The most high-profile instance of a player refusing to bow to the LGBT agenda was Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Provorov set off a flurry of anti-Christian commentary in the sports world for citing his Russian Orthodox beliefs as to why he sat out out pregame warmups that would’ve required him to wear a rainbow-colored jersey.
Provorov’s coach, John Tortorella, stood by him, as did Bettman, who has been at the helm of the NHL since 1993, making him the longest-serving commissioner in major professional U.S. sports. Provorov’s jersey immediately sold out online.
In the fall of 2022, the NHL released an internal report that concluded the league was not diverse enough. “We know we have work to do,” Kim Davis, executive vice president of social impact, growth initiatives & legislative affairs, told the Associated Press at the time. Bettman himself praised the report.
Last Thursday, Eric and Marc Staal of the Florida Panthers became the latest players to refuse to participate in pregame Pride Night exercises. “Wearing a pride jersey … goes against our Christian beliefs,” the pair said in a statement. Their coach, Paul Maurice, supported them.
San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer likewise refused to wear a rainbow-colored jersey for warmups ahead of the team’s matchup against the New York Islanders last month. “I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life,” he said.
During the game, the Sharks’ social media account tweeted random tidbits about “LGBTQIA+ topics” instead of score changes and video highlights.
“This is one issue where players for a variety of reasons may not feel comfortable wearing the uniform as a form of endorsement,” Bettman, who is Jewish, told CTV. “The substance of what our teams and we have been doing and stand for is really being pushed to the side for what is a handful of players basically have made personal decisions, and you have to respect that as well.”