National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman has announced that teams will discontinue the practice of wearing special warmup sweaters dedicated to the LGBT community or other causes. This decision comes after certain players declined to wear them last season due to religious reasons. Bettman referred to the issue as a “distraction” during his statement, which was made following an NHL board of governors meeting in New York last week.
During an interview with Sportsnet, Bettman did state that despite this decision, individual teams are still allowed to participate in any themed events they choose to, including Pride Night, Black History Night, and Military Appreciation Night.
“Out clubs, in some form or another, host nights in honor of various groups or causes,” said Bettman. “We rather them continue to get the appropriate attention that they deserve and not be a distraction.”
The shift in mindset regarding the appeasement of the LGBTQ+ agenda comes after another year of the sports world once again entangled with the push for gender ideology and transgender athletes. The NHL, as well as the MLB and other leagues have lost thousands of viewers and fans as a result of divisive marketing and business practices, many of which brought more negative attention than not.
It was only six months ago that the NHL was caught between defending a player and appeasing the LGBTQ+ pushers, when Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, an Russian Orthodox Christian, refused to wear a rainbow themed Pride Night warm up jersey because it conflicted with his personal views regarding sex and gender. Provorov was attacked relentlessly by the media, but fans across the country supported him throughout the controversy.
Ilya Lyubushkin, Denis Gurianov, and Andrei Kuzmenko, all Russian players, opted out of their teams’ pride night warmup sessions, with Lyubushkin attributing his decision to a law from the Kremlin. In March, the Chicago Blackhawks decided against wearing their pride-themed warmup jerseys, reportedly over safety concerns related to a Russian regulation limiting the promotion of LGBT rights. Similarly, both the Minnesota Wild and the New York Rangers reversed their initial plans to sport special jerseys during their individual pride nights.
“In the final analysis, all of the efforts and emphasis on the importance of these various causes have been undermined by the distraction in terms of which teams, which players,” said Bettman. “This way, we’re keeping the focus on the game, and on these specialty nights, we’re going to be focused on the cause.”
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