Report: Blackhawks Will Not Wear Pride Jerseys On Sunday
Sunday night when the Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks, the organization will celebrate their PRIDE Night. However, they will become the latest team to opt NOT to wear special jerseys during warmups before the game.
According to a report on Wednesday evening from Ben Pope at the Chicago Sun-Times, the organization made the decision “due to safety concerns for Russian players, according to sources close to the team.”
The Hawks have three players born or with family in Russia, where a law was passed in December banning “gay propaganda.” Conversations with security officials prompted an organizational decision to scrap the jersey plans, per sources.
Pope notes there are three players currently on the Blackhawks’ roster — Russian defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, Swiss forward Philipp Kurashev and Kazakh goaltender Anton Khudobin — who are of Russian heritage or have family in Russia.
With Petr Mrazek returning to practice on Wednesday, Khudobin could be in Rockford by Sunday. And Zaitsev could be a scratch with Andreas Englund also back from injury. But Kurashev, currently the team’s top-line center, figures to be dressed up front.
There has been a lot of conversation about teams and individual players opting to not participate in Pride nights around the NHL, which celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. It began this season in January when Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to wear their Pride jersey. Since then, the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild have scrapped their plans to wear Pride jerseys for warm-ups. Most recently, players on the San Jose Sharks — including goaltender James Reimer — opted to not participate in warm-ups.
A couple weeks ago when the Wild decided to not wear Pride jerseys for warm-ups, Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy spoke up about being unified as a team.
“It is a bit disappointing,” Murphy said to The Athletic. “It seems like we have so many other nights, and nobody raises any issues. Hockey is about inclusion, about growing the community and the game. I don’t see why anyone would have a need to feel like they don’t support a certain group. If it’s about the game and about bringing everyone together and about equality, everyone should always be supportive of that.”
According to Pope’s story, the Blackhawks will host “a ‘fireside chat’ Sunday for staff and partners with Brock McGillis, one of the first openly gay professional hockey players and now an LGBTQ activist within the hockey community.” The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and DJ Zel are scheduled to perform during the intermissions, and there are activities planned in the atrium for before the game.
Pope shared the following statement from the Blackhawks:
“The Chicago Blackhawks organization is proud to continue its annual Pride Night celebration, an evening — alongside year-round efforts — fueled by partnership and LGBTQIA+ community engagement,” the team said in a statement to the Sun-Times.
“Together, our activities will focus on fostering conversation and more equitable spaces in our pursuit to make hockey more inclusive. We do not condone anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric, and we stand firmly with the community.”
“While we know game-day celebrations like these are an important way we can use our platform to bring visibility, it is the work we do together 365 days a year that can create true impact in ensuring all of our colleagues, fans and communities feel welcomed and safe within our sport.”