The Chicago Blackhawks are the latest NHL team that will choose not to wear Pride-themed jerseys in warmup for Sunday’s Pride Night game against the Vancouver Canucks. The team cites security concerns involving a Russian law that expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQIA+ rights in the country, according to The Associated Press.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December that significantly expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQIA+ rights in the country,” per AP.
Although Russian players across the league have worn the jerseys to support the Pride community, the Hawks are supposedly trying to protect defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, forward Philipp Kurashev and goaltender Anton Khudobin by making the controversial decision.
“The decision was made by the NHL organization following discussions with security officials within and outside the franchise, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the move,” the outlet wrote on Thursday.
It’s an interesting move as the Blackhawks have worn Pride warmup jerseys and donned special warmup jerseys on other themed nights this NHL season. The front office of the organization made the final decision to hold the Pride Night without the jerseys this year.
Individual players have already refused to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys, citing religious reasons for their decision. It began with Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov early this season, before San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer did the same earlier this week. The New York Rangers organization also opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape despite previously saying that the team would.
It’s an extremely controversial topic in the hockey world right now, with some criticizing the teams and players in question for not wearing the Pride jerseys and creating an accepting hockey culture, with others agreeing with the right to choose.
The Chicago Blackhawks still have a variety of Pride Night activities planned for Sunday’s game against the Canucks, including the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and DJs from the LGBTQIA+ community playing during the game.