"Extremely disappointed": Brian Burke calls out Reimer for refusing to wear Pride jersey

Mar 20 2023, 7:06 pm

Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke is among the members of the hockey community calling out San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer for his actions on Saturday night.

Reimer made headlines this weekend when he chose not to participate in the team’s warmup on Saturday night wearing the team’s Pride Night jerseys, stating that it was a choice in relation to his “personal faith in Jesus Christ.”

“Under the umbrella of the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone initiative, the San Jose Sharks have chosen to wear jerseys in support of the LGBTQIA+ community tonight,” Reimer wrote in a statement, via the Sharks’ social media. “For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian – not just in title, but in how I choose to live my life daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and follow Him… In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life.”

Burke, who was Reimer’s president of hockey operations with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2008 to 2013 replied to those comments via a statement.

“I repeat that I am extremely disappointed,” Burke said, 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.”

Burke wasn’t there when Reimer was selected by the Leafs in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, but he was in charge of the organization during both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, Reimer’s first two years in the NHL.

Reimer, meanwhile, was traded away from the Leafs just prior to the 2016 trade deadline, where he was sent to San Jose for his first stint with the team.

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.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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