On Tuesday night, Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov refused to wear a gay pride warm-up jersey on the team’s Pride Night, citing religious beliefs.
Provorov’s move has been widely criticized, even by the NHL’s own reporters.
On the Wednesday edition of “NHL Now” on the NHL Network, senior reporter EJ Hradek Provorov, who is Russian, issued an ultimatum.
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“Ivan Provorov can get on a plane any day he wants and go back to a place where he feels more comfortable, take less money with him and go on with his life that way if it is so problematic for him…” said Hradek. “If this is such a big deal for him, to maybe assimilate into his group of teammates, and into the community and here in this country, that’s okay. Listen, you can feel any way you want. But the great thing is , if it bothers you that much, there’s always a chance to leave, go back to where you’re more comfortable – I understand there’s some sort of conflict going on there, you might get involved.
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Provorov has been labeled “homophobic” for the move, despite having “respect”.[s] everyone and respect[s] everyone’s choices.”
“My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say,” he said after the game.
In a statement released Tuesday night, the Flyers said they are “committed to inclusion and proud to support the LGBTQ+ community.
“Many of our players are active in supporting local LGBTQ+ organizations, and we were proud to host the annual Pride Night again this year,” they said. “The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusion and the LGBTQ+ community.”
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Head coach John Tortorella said it would have been “unfair” to bench Provorov for his beliefs, adding that he respects Provorov for “always [being] true to himself.”
The league said on Wednesday that “players are free to decide which initiatives they support, and we continue to encourage their voices and perspectives on social and cultural issues.”
The league did not respond to TBEN News Digital’s request for comment about Hradek’s feelings.