The San Jose Sharks' James Reimer became the second player in two months to publicly opt out of wearing a "Pride"-themed warm-up jersey, joining the Philadelphia Flyers' Ivan Provorov, who also cited his Christian beliefs as the reason not to participate.
Behind the scenes, multiple teams have decided that ditching the controversial theme altogether was a smarter move, either because of player refusal or to avoid a public relations black eye.
The Minnesota Wild were the latest team to scrap "Pride" celebrations by way of rainbow-themed warm-up jerseys, a move that prompted Yahoo News to ask "whether the league’s 'Hockey is for Everyone' initiative is anything more than empty words."
This was despite the fact that the "Pride Night" was still recognized by the organization: “The Minnesota Wild organization is proud to continue our support for the LGBTQIA+ community by hosting our second annual pride night tonight which we are celebrating in many ways. It is important to host nights like this to show all players, fans, and the LGBTQIA+ community that hockey is for everyone," a team press release reads.
You aren’t showing you “support everyone’s individual right to respectfully express their beliefs” by removing the jerseys (which you told the community you’d wear) as an option altogether. The Rangers made everyone look bad by catering to what was likely a small minority. https://t.co/9o3OGH0rYl— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) January 28, 2023