Eric Staal and Marc Staal, brothers and Florida Panthers teammates, are sitting out warmup tonight prior to their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
That’s because it’s Pride Night in Florida, and the Panthers are wearing special rainbow-coloured Pride jerseys to mark the occasion. The Staal brothers have refused to join their 18 other teammates in wearing the Pride jerseys, saying it goes against their “Christian beliefs.”
Proud to wear these beauties tonight.
Love is love.
🎨 by Teepop pic.twitter.com/KYynQNi7nl
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) March 23, 2023
“After many thoughts, prayers and discussions we have chosen not to wear a Pride jersey tonight,” Eric and Marc Staal said in a joint statement posted to social media by Tim Reynolds from the Associated Press.
“We carry no judgement on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey.
“Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a Pride jersey it goes against our Christian beliefs.
“We hope you can respect this statement, we will not be speaking any further on this matter and would like to continue to focus on the game and helping the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup.”
It’s another disappointing development for many hockey fans, as an increasing number of NHL players have chosen to sit out warmup rather than wear a Pride-themed jersey. Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Ivan Provorov was the first NHL player to refuse to wear a Pride Night jersey in January.
San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer opted to sit out warmup on Pride Night recently too. Brian Burke criticized the decision, saying he was “extremely disappointed” in Reimer.
Some teams have chosen to go ahead with their Pride Night plans, with full participation from players.
The Chicago Blackhawks, however, recently scrapped plans to wear a special jersey for Pride Night, citing “safety concerns” of their players due to Russia’s anti-gay laws. The Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers made similar decisions.
The Vancouver Canucks’ Pride Night is set for March 31, and it was expected that they would wear a special jersey. In a statement provided to Daily Hive, the Canucks said they will be releasing information about their Pride Night plans “closer to the date.”
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