Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella has no regrets about Ivan Provorov’s story as he came to his defense on Thursday morning, just hours before the game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
• Also read: Ivan Provorov: “The players are free to decide”
• Also read: Ivan Provorov refuses to wear a rainbow sweater
The Russian continues to face widespread criticism for refusing to wear a rainbow jersey during Tuesday’s warm-up session, which he did not attend. He invoked his orthodox religion to justify his decision not to don the Flyers bib to raise awareness of the LGBTQ+ cause. And for his part, the team’s pilot reiterated his opinion, saying he should respect the beliefs of others and believed that he had no reasonable reason to nail the player to the bench or the stands. Also, he believes the controversy in the dressing room will have a positive impact.
“[Je ne suis pas inquiet] in some way. During our 15-20 minutes together, the discussion was really healthy and the process of raising a delicate situation was very good, Tortorella said in a press conference on an interview the hockey player requested on the subject a few days before the duel. Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks. I think it will bond the team together. I’m not worried about speculation that there is a possible discord. There is no chance of that happening.”
“Provy did nothing wrong. If you don’t agree with him, that doesn’t mean he did anything wrong.”
Additionally, the instructor backed his words with a sustained effort from Provorov, who spent almost 23 minutes on the ice during the game against Anaheim. Asked about his decision to back the 26-year-old skater, he made a rather odd connection to quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s case of protesting social inequality.
“In 2016 I was asked about the flag: if a player kneels during the national anthem, what do you do then? I replied that he would remain seated for the rest of the game. But I was wrong. I learned a lot from this experience. What I think is that any protest against the flag and the anthem disgusts me. It’s still like that to this day. However, I shouldn’t have said that. I can’t force those feelings on anyone.”
“It’s the same here. Provy isn’t here to rail against Pride Night. He went about his business calmly. He and I had a few conversations about how to deal with all of this. There’s the team, himself and everything that’s going on. We talked a lot and the following process is there. He respects his beliefs very much and that hasn’t changed,” Tortorella also wanted to demonstrate.
Openly gay player agent Bayne Pettinger appeared unimpressed by Provorov’s and the Flyers’ statements.
“It’s not a choice. Being gay wasn’t a free choice for me, it’s my birth and my identity. I have to live with that. An election is something where you have options, but I had to do this to ensure my happiness, success and continuity in hockey.