No decision yet whether Vancouver Canucks will don Pride jerseys
Several NHL teams and players are refusing to wear Pride jerseys, prompting questions about what the Vancouver Canucks will be sporting at an upcoming game.
Not donning the rainbow-coloured jerseys would be seen as a real setback for many people who love the game.
Brennan Roy-Bertin, a hockey player with The Cutting Edges Hockey Club, an inclusive hockey league with dozens of members from the LGBTQ2S+ community, said he stopped playing minor hockey in Grade 9 due to a discriminatory environment.
“Being in the dressing room or even being on the ice, there was a lot of homophobic slurs going around,” he said. “No one wants to be part of that.”
In the last few weeks, players like San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer and brother Eric and Marc Staal from the Florida Panthers have refused to wear the Pride jersey, citing religious reasons. Roy-Bertin said he used to look up to the Staals.
“I grew up watching the Staals, they were great hockey players. I idolized them, so for them to say something like that, it’s a little disheartening. To me, it's a step back,” he told CTV News.
On Twitter, Luke Prokop, an openly gay professional hockey player with the Seattle Thunderbirds, said he shares the disappointment, “in what feels like a step back for inclusion in the NHL.”
The Chicago Blackhawks also opted for its team not to wear the jerseys, referring to an anti-gay Kremlin propaganda law they say could jeapordize the safety of some of their Russian players.
Florian Gassner, a professor at The University of British Columbia who specializes in Central and Eastern European cultural history, said the Blackhawks’ reasoning holds some merit.
“This is not just something about the morality police, this has geopolitical implications, which is probably why teams like the Blackhawks are so careful to tread lightly in this environment,” he said. “Therefore, you could also say that it’s basically the Blackhawks or the NHL just protecting their brand, because otherwise they could become subject to censorship in Russia.”
The Vancouver Canucks also have Russian players on their team: Vasily Podkolzin, Andrei Kuzmenko and Vitali Kravtsov.
In a statement to CTV News, the team said it will be releasing more information closer to game night and that it has “a long and proud history of hosting pride events.”
They team has donned Pride jerseys since 2017, and many fans hope they’ll continue the tradition.
"It’s so much more than that. It’s really their ability to bring the community together for a game and show the support from the Vancouver Canucks, the NHL and the community at large in Vancouver,” Roy-Bertin said.
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