Chicago Blackhawks Reverse Plan to Wear Pride Warmup Jerseys, Citing Russian Laws: Reports
According to reports, the decision was made because of the team's Russian players who have ties and family in the country, which has expanded anti-LGBTQ+ laws
Chicago Blackhawks players will not don their planned Pride-themed warmup jerseys this weekend to protect Russian players from anti-LGBTQ+ laws in their home country, per reports.
According to the Associated Press, the decision was made after the team spoke to security officials both in and outside of the organization.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently expanded restrictions on promoting LGBTQ+ issues, and because the Blackhawks have Russian players on its roster, the team did not want to jeopardize their safety in the country, the outlet said.
PEOPLE reached out to the team for comment on Thursday.
"It's an unfortunate situation, but that's just what we have to deal with," Chicago coach Luke Richardson said regarding the decision, per AP.
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"I don't think we can control the world issues, so that takes it out of our hands," he added. "We're just making decisions as best we can as an organization and for everybody."
As The Athletic notes, the move contradicts what Blackhawks caption Connor Murphy previously said about the team after other clubs opted out of wearing the Pride jerseys.
"I don't think we have anyone, that I know of, that wouldn't support that," Murphy told the outlet. "I think it was surprising to see that stuff came up this year. We've been doing it for so many years, so it's not like it's a new subject. … It is a bit disappointing [to see around the league]."
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"It seems like we have so many other nights, and nobody raises any issues," he said. "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."
While speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, Murphy said he hopes the change does not affect the Pride celebrations scheduled for their game on Sunday.
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"I can understand [why people are upset] when things are announced one way and then changed," Murphy said. "But I hope that people understand we all support them."
"Whether it's someone in the gay community or someone in any other community... we hope that everyone feels welcome in our arenas and watching us and even a part of the game and wanting to play," he continued. "That's the big message we hope can stay true."
The Blackhawks' decision comes after multiple teams have either canceled their Pride Night events or had individual players who refused to get involved. Over the weekend, San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer refused to wear the team's pride jersey, citing his religious beliefs.
Earlier this season, the Philadelphia Flyers' Ivan Provorov also refused to take part, saying it went against his religion. The New York Rangers also canceled most of their planned Pride Night events that were scheduled for Jan. 27.
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