Intentionally or not Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov caused a bit of a controversy on Tuesday night.
As might know by now Provorov elected to sit out of the team's warmup ahead of their game against the Anaheim Ducks because he did not feel comfortable wearing the Flyers' Pride Night warmup jerseys featuring rainbow colored numbers on their usual black background.
Provorov cited his Russian Orthodox religion as his reason for not wanting to partake and clarified that he sought the permission of his coaching staff before making the decision to sit out warmup.
Head coach John Tortorella showed support for Provorov following Tuesday evening's game, saying today that Provorov was just "being true to himself and his religion." Today, Torts doubled down on that support today:
As you might expect, the reaction to Provorov's decision has been decidedly mixed. Some fans and media members have declared him a bigot and have called for either the NHL or the Flyers to fine him or suspend him. Others though have commended Provorov for sticking to his convictions, despite knowing the backlash that he had to know was coming his way.
Like most things these days, you have loud voices on either side of the subject screaming their point of view from the tree tops in an effort to one up the other side. Frankly, it's exhausting...
Personally, I have no problem with Provorov's silent protest. On the flip side though, I have no problem with people judging him harshly for his decision. He has the right to sit out and people have the right to judge him based on his decision. Period. That's really all there is to it, in my opinion. Everything else is just white noise that adds nothing to the discourse.
Still, the white noise continues over 48 hours later mostly because fans and some members of the media have been calling for the NHL to suspend or fine Provorov for his decision. Well, today NHL commissioner Gary Bettman issued a statement and gave his assessment of the situation. And, if I may, it's very well stated and remarkably on point... given that this is Gary freaking Bettman, after all.
Check it out:
I've got to say... I couldn't agree with Mr. Bettman any more. As much as it pains me to admit it, I think that Bettman is pretty well on point in this case.
The fact of the matter is that the NHL and the Flyers do a lot of good for the LGBTQ+ community and there drive to increase inclusivity in recent years should be applauded. Let's not let one player and his religious beliefs hijack what should be a night to celebrate Pride and grow the sport for everyone to enjoy.