Russian hockey star explains ditching LGBT-themed demonstration
Ivan Provorov, the 26-year-old Russian defender for the NHL team the Philadelphia Flyers, has said that he opted out of a pre-game warmup which paid tribute to the Pride movement because it clashed with his religious beliefs.
Provorov, who has played for the NHL franchise since the 2016-17 season, was absent from his team’s pre-game skate ahead of a game with the Anaheim Ducks as the Flyers celebrated Pride night by wearing rainbow-colored regalia in support of the LGBT community.
He subsequently played 23 minutes in the Flyers’ 5-2 win.
The uniforms and sticks used in pregame warmup were later made available for online auction, with the proceeds set to be given to charity. Provorov was the only player on the Flyers roster who did not have any items available for sale.
“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov on refusing to wear a rainbow jersey for warm ups during “Pride Night” due to his Russian Orthodox faith. pic.twitter.com/wCUl8slmRB— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 18, 2023
“I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said after the conclusion of the game.
“My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Provorov's teammates James van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton have been noted supporters of LGBT issues and have helped launch local programs in support of the movement.
Despite Provorov’s absence, Laughton said afterwards that the demonstration was a “great, great night that brings a lot of awareness.”
“I don’t hold anything against anyone,” Laughton said when asked about his Russian teammate. “It’s nothing like that. It was an awesome night and I’m very happy we got a win on a night like this.”
Speaking about the matter afterwards, Flyers coach John Tortorella said that he respected Provorov’s stance and noted that it was an example of him displaying his individuality.
“With Provy, he’s being true to himself and to his religion,” Tortorella said.
“This has to do with his belief and his religion. It’s one thing I respect about Provy: He's always true to himself. That’s where we’re at with that.”
The Flyers also appeared to reference Provorov’s absence in a post-game statement.
“The Philadelphia Flyers organization is committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community,” they wrote.
“Many of our players are active in their support of local LGBTQ+ organizations, and we were proud to host our annual Pride Night again this year. The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community.”