Ivan Provorov, a Russian defenseman for the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, refused to wear a Pride-themed warmup jersey before Tuesday night's home game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Provorov, 26, did not participate in pregame warmups but did play in the Flyers' 5-2 victory. After the game, he told reporters he boycotted the pregame warmups because of religious reasons. He said he is a Russian Orthodox Christian.
"I respect everybody, and I respect everybody's choices," Provorov said. "My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion."
Flyers players wore Pride-themed jerseys with rainbow-colored numbers and names and used sticks wrapped in rainbow tape during pregame warmups. The jerseys and sticks from each player, except Provorov, are being auctioned by Flyers Charities, with proceeds going toward efforts to grow the game in diverse communities.
Mike Stephens, a writer for Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News, criticized Provorov, tweeting: "the Flyers, like every team in the NHL, have LGBTQ+ identifying fans. Ivan Provorov just told them all that he doesn't think they belong in hockey. Disgusting."
The NHL, which has the slogan "Hockey is for Everyone," said in a statement, "Players are free to decide which initiatives to support, and we continue to encourage their voices and perspectives on social and cultural issues."
Coach John Tortorella told reporters after the game he did not consider benching Provorov for skipping pregame warmups.
"He's being true to himself and to his religion," Torotrella said. "It's one thing I always respect about Provy: He has always been true to himself. We talked as a team and with Provy, and that's where we're at."
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.