Brian Burke isn’t wavering on his stance about the string of NHL players recently refusing to participate in their team’s Pride Nights.
A growing number of players, including James Reimer, Eric and Marc Staal, and Ivan Provorov have chosen not to wear their respective team’s Pride Night uniforms this season.
On Saturday’s edition of Hockey Night in Canada, Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations joined Ron MacLean to reiterate his beliefs as well as touch on his own religious upbringing.
“To our friends in the LGBTQ+ community, don’t be discouraged,” Burke said. “We’ve had a couple of minor setbacks from a tiny number of players, but we’ve made steady and spectacular progress in this space.”
Reimer and both Staal brothers cited their Christianity as part of their reasons for refusing to wear the special-edition jerseys.
“With the religious reasons, it just doesn’t compute for me,” Burke said. “I was born and raised a Catholic. I don’t see any conflict between my religious beliefs and the ability to say to the LGBTQ+ community you’re welcome here.”
"It’s about saying this community is valuable and important and we want to honour them."
Brian Burke joined Ron MacLean to discuss Pride Nights across the NHL and supporting the LGBTQ+ community. pic.twitter.com/fFo3kiG4XM
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 26, 2023
“It’s about saying this community is valuable and important and we want to honour them,” Burke added.
Burke is a founding member of the You Can Play Project, an organization founded in 2011 following the passing of his late son, Brendan, with the stated mission of ensuring “the safety and inclusion of all LGBTQ people in sports, including athletes, coaches, staff, and fans.”
Brendan, a former equipment manager for the University of Miami Redhawks men’s hockey team, made international headlines in coming out back in 2009 while also speaking out against the culture of homophobia in sports. He was killed in a car crash in 2010.
“I repeat that I am extremely disappointed,” Burke initially said about Reimer last weekend, via the Sharks broadcast on NBC. “I wish players would understand that the Pride sweaters are about inclusion and welcoming everybody. A player wearing Pride colors or tape isn’t endorsing a set of values or enlisting in a cause! He is saying you are welcome here. And you are, in every single NHL building.”