According to the report, the team is not wearing the jerseys because of security concerns involving Russian players, citing unnamed sources close to the team. The Sun-Times also reports, according to sources, that the decision was made by the front office and not the players.
In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that expands a ban on so-called LGBTQ “propaganda” in Russia, making it illegal for anyone to promote same-sex relationships or suggest that non-heterosexual orientations are “normal.”
CNN has reached out to the NHL for comment. “The Chicago Blackhawks organization is proud to continue its annual Pride Night celebration, an evening – alongside year-round efforts – fueled by partnership and LGBTQIA+ community engagement,” the team told CNN in a statement on Thursday.
“Together, our activities will focus on fostering conversation and more equitable spaces in our pursuit to make hockey more inclusive. We do not condone anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric, and we stand firmly with the community.
“While we know game-day celebrations like these are an important way we can use our platform to bring visibility, it is the work we do together 365 days a year that can create true impact in ensuring all of our colleagues, fans and communities feel welcomed and safe within our sport.”
On the Blackhawks’ website, advertising for the Pride night promotion for the team’s Sunday game against the Vancouver Canucks, says: “Pride Night brings the entire Blackhawks organization together to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and stand together for inclusion. A special pregame event in the United Center Atrium will kick off the evening featuring special performances, photo opportunities and more.”
The Blackhawks currently have one Russian-born player on their roster, defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, who is from Moscow, and there are also other players on the team who have ties to Russia.