For years now, the NHL has hopped on the “pride night” bandwagon. With rainbow-colored stick tape, warmup jerseys, and gloves, many players have been more than happy to show their support for the LGTBQ community. Given that the first openly gay active player only came out back in 2021, the league hasn’t exactly been attracting the community over the years.
The root cause behind the Chicago Blackhawks’ decision for the March 26th game didn’t come down to American politics or members of the team or the organization having an issue with the LGTBQ community or gay players. According to the Associated Press, the decision came from an investigation within the organization and outside concerning security risks that could arise from it.
Previously the team has participated in these nights and many other leagues endorse nights to wear 3rd or unusual jerseys. Yet, with Russia signing a law that put more restrictions on promoting LGTBQ rights back in December of 2022, things changed. Chicago defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and other members of the team have family in the country as well as numerous connections within the country.
They are not alone in this decision, either. San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov chose not to participate in their team’s Pride Night on March 18th. In January the NY Rangers opted not to wear the pride jerseys or use the stick tape either. In striking defiance of Russia and stark contrast to their goalie, Russians Nikolai Knyzhov and Alexander Barabano opted to wear their pride gear on the 18th.
Decisions like this are always tough for the teams and players. Going along with the liberals’ weak arguments blindly is never a good idea. It rarely if ever works out well, and doesn’t come across as anything more than lip service. Yet opting out has negative optics as well. This decision though, that’s letting another nation tell the US and Canada what we are going to do, and that’s not what freedom is.