Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov He didn’t take his roller skates on Tuesday night because he refused to wear a warm LGBTQ+ Pride Night team jersey, citing his religious beliefs.
Provorov, 26, told reporters after the Flyers beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 at home that his choice was “to remain true to myself and my religion,” which he described as Russian Orthodox.
“I respect everyone. I respect everyone’s choices,” he said.
Prior to the game, the Flyers wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow ribbon, both of which are being auctioned by Flyers Charities with proceeds going toward their efforts to grow the game in diverse communities.
Provorov was the only Flyers player who did not have a jersey or stick for auction after the game.
The Flyers released a statement prior to Provorov’s post-game comments:
“The Philadelphia Flyers are committed to inclusivity and proud to support the LGBTQ+ community. Many of our players are active in supporting local LGBTQ+ organizations, and we are proud to host our annual Pride Night again this year. The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community.”
The NHL did not release a statement on the matter as of Tuesday night.
John Tortorella, the Flyers’ coach, said he thought nothing of scratching Provorov for not warming up.
“With Provy, he’s being true to himself and his religion,” said the first-year Flyers coach. “That has to do with his faith and his religion. It’s something I respect about Provy: He’s always true to himself. That’s where we are with that.”
Tortorella has made headlines before about his stance on pre-game protests. In 2016, he said that any of his players who did not stand up to the national anthem would remain on the bench for the rest of the game. He reversed this stance after witnessing racial injustice protests in 2020, saying he would no longer punish players who protested before the match.
“I hope that if a player wants to protest during the national anthem, he’ll bring it to me and we’ll talk about it, tell me his ideas and what he wants to do. From there, we’ll bring it to the Athletic,” Tortorella told the Athletic at the time.
Messages to You Can Play, a social activism campaign that has partnered with the NHL since 2013, and the Philadelphia Falcons, an LGBTQ+ soccer program that was the Flyers’ invited guest at the game, were not brought back.
Pride events are part of the NHL and NHLPA’s year-round “Hockey for All” initiative.
“For more than a decade, the NHL has ramped up its efforts to show its support year-round on and off the ice for the LGBTQ+ community,” Kim Davis, NHL Senior Executive Vice President, said during Pride Month in 2022.
The Flyers have supported the LGBTQ+ community for years. The mascot, Gritty, is famous for participating in the Philadelphia Pride parade.
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