The Chicago Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys at Sunday’s Pride Night game against Vancouver due to security concerns involving an anti-LGBTQ Russian law.
The decision was made by the NHL following discussions with security officials within and outside the franchise, a source familiar with the situation told the Associated Press.
Chicago defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and other Blackhawks players have family or other connections in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December greatly expanding restrictions on LGBTQ rights, including what Moscow called spreading “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors.
San Jose sharks goalie James Reimer and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov have both cited religious beliefs in previously refusing to wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys.
In January, the New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride Night jerseys or use rainbow-themed stick tape during warmups, despite having promoted them in ticket sales leading up to that night’s game.
However, Russian nationals Nikolai Knyzhov and Alexander Barabanov wore Pride-themed jerseys for the Sharks on Saturday.
The Blackhawks have other Pride-themed events planned for Sunday, despite the team’s opting out of wearing the jerseys. DJs from the LGBTQ community will play before the game and during intermission, for example. The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus is also slated to perform. There are also plans to highlight several area businesses with ties to the LGBTQ community.