On a night that was supposed to be about the Flyers' support of the LGBTQ+ community, the focus quickly shifted toward Ivan Provorov’s boycott of the event.
The Flyers defenseman elected not to participate in warmups with the team on Tuesday night because he refused to wear Philadelphia’s Pride Night jerseys and use a stick with rainbow tape on it.
After the game, Provorov said that his religious beliefs were the reason for boycotting the celebration.
“I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said after the Flyers' 5-2 loss. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”
“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 18, 2023
Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov on refusing to wear a rainbow jersey for warm ups during “Pride Night” due to his Russian Orthodox faith.
The Flyers offered this statement on behalf of the organization after Provorov’s comments:
“The Philadelphia Flyers organization is committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community. Many of our players are active in their support of local LGBTQ+ organizations, and we were proud to host our annual Pride night again this year. The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community.”
Flyers coach John Tortorella confirmed in the postgame that Provorov did not partake in the warmups because he did not want to wear the jersey and defended the defenseman’s decision.
John Tortorella's comments on Ivan Provorov declining to wear Pride Night jersey in warm-ups pic.twitter.com/s2MllcHYdx— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 18, 2023
“With (Provorov), he’s being true to himself and to his religion,” Tortorella said. “This has to do with his belief and his religion. That’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself. So that’s where we’re at with that.”
Tortorella was asked if he ever considered benching the 26-year-old, which he said he did not. The coach famously said in 2016 that he would bench any player that kneeled during the national anthem, stemming from the protests in the NFL that were initiated by Colin Kaepernick.
However, he has since softened his stance, stating that he’d be open to having a conversation with any player and discussing it further with the team.
The league put out the following statement on Wednesday morning in regards to Provorov’s decision to sit out of Pride night:
Hockey is for Everyone is the umbrella initiative under which the League encourages Clubs to celebrate the diversity that exists in their respective markets, and to work to achieve more welcoming and inclusive environments for all fans. Clubs decide who to celebrate, when and how — with League counsel and support. Players are free to decide which initiatives to support, and we continue to encourage their voices and perspectives on social and cultural issues.
What is Ivan Provorov’s religion?
Provorov confirmed after the game that he is a member of the Russian Orthodox church.
The church is one of the parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which is considered to be the second-largest Christian body in the world.
Flyers Pride Night
While Provorov’s boycott of the event brought a dimmer on the celebrations, the night was a success in the eyes of the organizers.
“(James van Riemsdyk and I) just got back from a room with about 50 from the community,” Scott Laughton said after the game. “It was a great night. Amazing initiative, and something that’s been close to me for a long time. I know (van Riemsdyk) too. So I’m going to leave it at that, to be honest. I think it’s a great, great night that brings a lot of awareness and everything like that.
“I don’t hold anything against anyone. It was a great night, put a lot of smiles on people’s faces.”
Laughton and van Riemsdyk launched a program last year to help support the LGBTQ+ community in the Philadelphia area. They have partnered with a number of nonprofit organizations and host LGBTQ+ members at every home game.
The pair participated in the pre-game skate involving members of the Great Philadelphia GOAL organization, a group that advocates for LGBTQ+ first responders and military members.
After the game, the jerseys and sticks used in warmups were sold at auction by Flyers Charities. The proceeds were going towards the continuing effort to spread awareness in the community.
Provorov was the only player not to have a stick or jersey included in the auction.