Bettman: “(It’s) more of a distraction from the essence of what these evenings are about”
NHL teams I won’t wear special swimsuits for pre-match warm-ups during theme evenings next season, the result of a A handful of players refuse to wear rainbow-colored Pride jerseys last season and causing unwanted distractions.
The league’s Board of Governors on Thursday agreed with Commissioner Gary Bettman that the denials have overshadowed teams’ efforts to hold pride nights that in some cases included auctioning off jerseys. warming up. The 32 teams organized the Pride or Hockey is for Everyone evening.
Betman, in an interview with Sportsnet following the Board of Governors meeting in New York, said he suggested teams stop wearing special warm-up jerseys because theme nights were being undermined by talk of some players opting out to participate.
“It further distracts us from the very essence of what these parties are about,” Bettman said. “We remain focused on the match. And during these specialized evenings, we will focus on the cause.
Teams will continue to celebrate Pride and other theme nights, including military appreciation and hockey to fight cancer. They are also expected to continue designing and producing jerseys that will be autographed and sold to raise funds, even though players will not skate with them during warm-ups.
You Can Play, which has worked with sports and leagues – including the NHL – to help them become more inclusive for members of the LGBTQ+ community, said it was “concerned and disappointed” by the decision.
“Today’s decision means that more than 95 percent of players who chose to wear a Pride jersey to support the community will no longer have the opportunity to do so,” the organization said in a statement. “The work to make locker rooms, conference rooms and arenas safer, more diverse and more inclusive must be ongoing and focused, and we will continue to work with our NHL partners, including individual teams, players , agents and the NHLPA. to ensure this essential work continues.
Betman defended the league and team management situations during the NHL All-Star Weekend in February, saying tolerance for different viewpoints was part of being “open, welcoming and inclusive.”
“You know what our goals and our values and our intentions are across the league, whether it’s at the league level or at the club level,” Bettman said at the time. “But we also have to respect certain individual choices, and some people are more comfortable than others in committing to a cause. And part of being diverse and welcoming is understanding these differences.
Seven players, citing various reasons, decided not to participate in pregame warmups when their teams wore Pride jerseys before games. A few teams also decided not to let players wear them after planning to do so.
James Reimer, a goalie for San Jose, and brothers Eric and Marc Staal from Florida, who are Canadian, also cited their religious beliefs. Russian players Buffalo’s Ilya Lyubushkin, Denis Gurianov from Montreal And Vancouver’s Andrei Kuzmenko also chose not to participate in their teams’ Pride Night warmups.
Lyubushkin cited a Kremlin anti-gay law as the reason, which also explains why the Chicago Blackhawks have decided not to Pride Night Jerseys. The New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild previously opted against the jerseys after previously announcing they would have them.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who is Russian, participated in warmups the night the Staal brothers declined and following several compatriots’ decision not to wear Pride jerseys.