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NHL Players Who Refuse to Wear Pride Jerseys Are Facing Authoritarian Media Backlash

Some NHL players refused to wear rainbow flag jerseys on their bodies citing their religious beliefs. And, every time, mass media pundits engaged in all-out character assassination towards these players. Here’s a look at a situation that’s taking an authoritarian turn.



There’s something deeply unhealthy happening in the National Hockey League (NHL) this year. Week after week, a different NHL team hosts a Pride Night to “celebrate the LGBTQA+ community” and, week after week, a new “controversy” emerges where a player is berated by mass media for not complying.

As the “controversies” pile up, there’s a bizarre, authoritarian pattern emerging where players must either submit or be shamed by mass media for days on end.

The main problem of these Pride Nights: ALL players from the home team are required to skate around while wearing rainbow flag jerseys during warmups and/or games. By forcing players to be draped in the pride flag – on jerseys that bear their last names – these “celebrations” turned into some kind of authoritarian pledge of allegiance. And those who refuse to wear these jerseys are suffering authoritarian consequences: Character assassination from elite-sponsored media.

Did you know that Communist China engaged in similar tactics during its “Cultural Revolution”?

Here’s a short timeline of what has been happening in the NHL.

Ivan Provorov

The controversies began in January when Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov opted out of participating in warmups with his teammates. The reason: Players had to skate around with rainbow jerseys and rainbow tape on their sticks.

After the game, Provorov had to face reporters and explain himself.

When questioned by journalists, Provorov explained that these celebrations went again his Russian Orthodox beliefs.

“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say. That’s all I’m going to comment on that. If you have any hockey questions, I’ll answer those.”

Instead of, like, ignoring Provorov and respecting his choice, journalists and commentators engaged in all-out character assassination.

A female hockey player tweeted that Provorov should have been punished for not wearing the jersey. Is this still a free country?

This article calls Provorov’s choice of not wearing the Pride jersey a “show of defiance”. That’s the kind of headline one can read in Communist China.

Even Flyers Nation – an officially credentialed media outlet of the Philadelphia Flyers – published an article attacking Provorov … who is a Flyer.

While the media attempted to destroy Provorov, people who actually matter showed support. For instance, Flyers’ coach John Tortorella stated that he respected Provorov for staying true to himself. Furthermore, Provorov’s jersey (the real one, not the rainbow one) quickly sold out after the controversy.

In the weeks that followed, some NHL teams such as the New York Rangers and the Minnesota Wild canceled Pride Night, probably because several players did not want to do it. More recently, the Chicago Blackhawks canceled Pride Night by citing a specific reason: It put its Russian players at risk due to Putin’s anti-LGBT propaganda laws.

While the media is now attempting to put a political spin on the story (i.e. it’s Putin’s fault), the narrative was cut short when James Reimer – a Canadian player – refused to wear the jersey.

James Reimer

On March 20th, James Reimer of the San Jose Sharks refused to wear the pride jersey and sat out of the game.

James Reimer

Following the game, a statement was posted on the Sharks’ social media accounts.

Reimer wrote:

“For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian — not just in title, but in how I choose to live my life daily.

I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and follow him.

I have no hate in my heart for anyone, and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness. In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life.”

Immediately after the game, Reimer suffered the same media public shaming as Provorov.

Keith Olbermann called for the firing of Reimer for not submitting to the all-important jersey.

This headline says that players who do not wear the jersey deserve “scrutiny”. Sounds like a Communist China headline.

The author of this article wants to get involved in Reimer’s Christian faith. Maybe he should mind his business.

There are literally hundreds of articles attacking Reimer and calling for his cancellation. Why? Because he refused to wear a politically-charged flag on his body. What happened to “my body, my choice”?

The Staal Brothers

Eric, Jordan, and Marc Staal.

Two of the Staal brothers play for the Florida Panthers and both of them skipped the rainbow jersey night citing their Christian beliefs. Since they’re Canadian, the media could not push its Russian narrative. However, this did not prevent “journalists” to engage in character assassination.

Do you see a pattern emerging?


There’s something extremely disturbing about this situation. It is not about “celebrating people”, it is about compliance with a specific ideology. This charade is strangely reminiscent of the Chinese cultural revolution where “enemies of the ideology” were exposed and publically shamed in “struggle sessions”.

Carefully arranged and organized, the mass trials and accusatory meetings followed clear and meticulously prearranged patterns. Dramatic devices such as staging, props, working scripts, agitators, and climactic moments were used to efficiently engage the emotions of the audience—to stir up resentment against the targeted groups and mobilize the audience to support the regime.
– Mühlhahn, Klaus (2009). Criminal Justice in China: A History.

Shaming and finger-pointing during a Chinese “struggle session” (1964).

If you think that this comparison is extreme, it is really not. The underlying principle is identical: The shaming of those who do not comply to force the compliance of everyone else.

In Conclusion

Like many other institutions across society, the NHL is being targeted by a clear agenda to root out and expose those who do not comply with the elite’s ideology. As NHL teams successively host Pride Nights, they force every single player to engage in a very personal act: To wear a politically-charged flag on their body. By doing so, they are forcing players to either submit or to suffer through a modern version of “struggle sessions”.

As these Pride Nights keep sweeping across the NHL, other “controversies” are bound to happen. By doing so, the elite managed to turn an institution that valued skill, talent, hard work, and toughness into yet another den of toxicity.


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