Eric and Marc Staal from the Florida Panthers hockey team did not join the warmup of their game against Toronto Maple Leafs because they didn’t want to wear the team’s Pride jerseys. The brothers stated that it went “against” their Christian beliefs, so they couldn’t do it.
“After thinking, praying and discussing it over, both Staal brothers have decided to not wear a pride jersey tonight. We do not judge other people’s lifestyles and we believe everyone should be able to enjoy hockey no matter what. However, we feel that wearing a pride jersey doesn’t follow our Christian beliefs.”
Eric Staal said that he never wore a Pride jersey while playing in the NHL before, but it was proven wrong with some pictures of him wearing one during the 2020-21 season. The Florida Panthers lost their game 6-2 and Eric Staal said they won’t talk about it anymore and would rather focus on winning the Stanley Cup.
All the players on the Panthers team put on special jerseys during pre-game warmups, except Eric and Marc Staal. The star of the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk said that they make sure everyone is included in their locker room.
Matthew Tkachuk said after the game, “For me, having a night like tonight is about including everyone. I think it’s the best game ever and everybody is welcome in my locker room and our team’s locker room. Our organization has done a wonderful job with Pride Night. We were one of the first teams to start it and we keep showing hockey belongs to everybody.”
Recently there has been lots of talk about Russia and LGBTQIA+ rights. Even though there is a law that restricts people’s freedom, the Russian player Sergei Bobrovsky from the Panthers team still wanted to show his support by wearing a special Pride-themed jersey during warm up. Though he wasn’t the first one to refuse due to this issue, NHL players have been having such events all season long.
At the start of the year, Philadelphia Flyers hockey player Ivan Provorov chose not to join in pregame warm ups because he didn’t want to have on the team’s Pride jersey. Goods reason for this was his religious beliefs which come from Russian Orthodox religion.
Recently, the San Jose Sharks’ goalie James Reimer refused to skate during a team pregame because he didn’t want to wear their Pride jersey. This same thing happened with the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers – they were supposed to wear their Pride jerseys but in the end, they chose not to. If you want to learn more about why this is happening throughout the NHL, go and read about it here!