Ilya Samsonov lone Leafs player to not wear Pride Night sticker

Apr 5 2023, 3:18 pm

On Tuesday, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov became the lone member of the team that didn’t fully participate in the team’s Pride Night festivities.

At last night’s home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Samsonov refrained from wearing the rainbow-coloured helmet decal sported by the rest of his teammates, citing fears for his family’s safety relating to an anti-gay law back in his home country of Russia.

The Leafs announced that they wouldn’t be having specialty warmup uniforms like some other teams, though those have never been part of their Pride Night programs at Scotiabank Arena that date back to 2017.

“As folks may or may not know, in the past, Ilya has actually supported Pride events with the Washington Capitals. But with the introduction of the new law in Russia as of this past December, it’s definitely created an uncertainty for his family’s safety back home,” Mark Fraser, Maple Leafs manager for culture and inclusion (and former defenceman for the team), said to TSN.

Samsmonov did not play on the night, with goalie Joseph Woll getting the 4-2 win for Toronto.

“To be frank, from my personal perspective of the work I’ve been able to do with the team, with the club and with the players, Ilya is someone who has most certainly bought in. He truly loves our game and believes that the game should be available and inclusive to all,” Fraser added. “We’re fortunate here with the Maple Leafs to have also have members in our locker room from the LGBTQ+ community and watching how Ilya is in his care and genuine relationship with those individuals, I’m very confident of where he stands on this. It’s created a little uncertainty for him and his family’s safety.”

The Leafs return to action on Thursday night, when they visit the Boston Bruins.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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