Florida Panthers brothers Eric and Marc Staal refuse to wear LGBTQ warm-up jerseys during Pride Night as NHL players object to the jerseys due to their religious beliefs.
Florida Panthers frat duo Eric and Marc Staal refused to wear an LGBTQ sweater and therefore did not participate in the skating warm-ups before their NHL game on Thursday night.
The Staal brothers exercised their freedoms, opposing the pride jersey for religious beliefs.
“After much thought, prayer and discussion, we have decided not to wear a Pride Night jersey tonight,” the brothers said in a statement, released by the Panthers.
“We do not judge how people choose to live their lives and we believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey. Having said that, we feel that wearing a pride shirt goes against our Christian beliefs.
“We hope you can respect this statement, we will not speak further on this matter and would like to continue to focus on the game and help the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup.”
Brothers Eric (L) and Marc (R) Staal of the Florida Panthers oppose LGBTQ shirts
The brothers have played together with the New York Rangers and now the Florida franchise.
Panthers players wore the pride-themed jerseys Thursday night before a home game against Toronto.
The jerseys are just one part of many initiatives the Panthers have incorporated into the annual event, including auctioning off the jerseys, matching the money raised, and donating it to nonprofit organizations that serve the LGBTQ community.
“As an organization, we have decided, and rightly so, to go ahead and support him and celebrate him,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.
“The teams in the league and the players in the league have a right to their opinion and we have a right to ours.”
As numerous teams have moved forward with LGBTQ nights, some players in the league have regressed.
The Chicago Blackhawks have opted not to wear LGBTQ jerseys during a ‘Pride Night’ on Sunday.
The NHL organization made the decision after discussions with security officials inside and outside the franchise, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Wednesday because of the sensitivity of the move.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December significantly expanding restrictions on activities deemed to promote LGBTQ rights in the country.
San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer did not participate in the Pride Night celebrations
Chicago defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a native of Moscow, and there are other players with relatives in Russia or other connections to the country.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov and San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer did not participate in Pride Night, citing religious beliefs.
The New York Rangers, Islanders, and Minnesota Wild opted not to wear Pride-themed jerseys.
Each February, the NHL promotes a ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ campaign that focuses on ways to promote diversity and inclusion.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov also dropped back and did not participate.