Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov faced backlash for his decision to boycott the organization’s Pride night to support the LGBTQ+ community.
Provorov didn’t participate in pregame warmups when the team wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape. He cited his Russian Orthodox religion as the reason why he didn’t participate. He eventually played in the game against the Anaheim Ducks.
“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices,” he told reporters after the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”
The Russia native, who is in his seventh season with the Flyers, received backlash on social media for the boycott.
Flyers coach John Tortorella explained the situation after the game.
“I think the organization has sent out a release regarding the beliefs that we have,” he said, via Philly Hockey Now. “It was really a great night. With Provy, he is being true to himself and to his religion. This has to do with his beliefs and his religion. That is one thing I respect about Provy, he is always true to himself, so that’s where we’re at with that.”
Tortorella thought it would be “unfair” to bench him for his beliefs.
“I just think it’s unfair. I know you are probably going to talk to Provy,” he said. “I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it. I think it was a great night, and I’m not going to get too deep into the conversation.”
The Flyers didn’t mention Provorov’s beliefs in their statement.
“The Philadelphia Flyers organization is committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community,” the team said. “Many of our players are active in their support of local LGBTQ+ organizations, and we were proud to host out annual Pride Night again this year. The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community.”
The NHL has come under fire in recent weeks. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis scolded the organization for alleged discrimination when it promoted a job fair that only allowed certain groups of people to attend.
The league also had to push back on criticism from social media for hosting a transgender and nonbinary hockey tournament.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.