A professional hockey team has decided not to wear Pride jerseys because one of their players is Russian.
The Chicago Blackhawks will not wear warmup jerseys commemorating Pride Night on Sunday because a Russian law expands restrictions on activities considered to be promoting LGBTQ rights.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December significantly increasing restrictions on activities viewed as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country. It builds on a 2013 law and prohibits advertising, media and theater productions deemed to contain ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’.
There are security concerns around wearing the Pride jersey in the game against the Vancouver Canucks.
Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a native of Moscow.
The National Hockey League and Dan Milstein, who represents teams including the Blackhawks, declined to comment.
But Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said he and the players are disappointed.
‘It’s an unfortunate situation, but that’s just what we have to deal with,’ said Richardson.
‘I don’t think we can control the world issues, so that takes it out of our hands. We’re just making decisions as best we can as an organization and for everybody.’
The Blackhawks have worn Pride warmup jerseys before. The team has planned other programming to honor pride. LGBTQ DJs will play before the game and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus will sing during an intermission.
‘We don’t want the jerseys to represent the entirety of the night,’ said Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones.
‘We’re still doing a lot for the LGBTQ community, and us as players respect that. We just thought that this was best for our team. We know the organization puts the players on the team first.’
Russian players on other teams have opted to wear Pride jerseys before, including Nikolai Knyzhov and Alexander Barabanov who play for the San Jose Sharks.
Pride nights are coming up for the Canucks and Buffalo Sabres. The Canucks have not announced their plans yet and the Sabres are still in conversations about it.
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