Flyers’ Ivan Provorov BOYCOTTS takes a shot before the game over his refusal to wear a Pride pre-match jersey

Flyers’ Ivan Provorov BOYCOTTS takes a shot before the game over his refusal to wear a Pride pre-match jersey

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov boycotted Tuesday’s pre-game skate over his refusal to wear a Pride pre-match jersey. The 26-year-old justified the decision with his Russian Orthodox faith, which divided ice hockey fans.

“I respect everyone’s decisions,” said Provorov, who had 23 minutes in the Flyers’ 5-2 win over Anaheim. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’ll say.’

He did not answer follow-up questions about his decision.

Scott Laughton #21 of the Philadelphia Flyers spins the puck in the air while warming up before his game against the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov boycotted Tuesday’s pre-game skate over his refusal to wear a Pride pre-match jersey. The 26-year-old justified the decision with his Russian Orthodox faith, which divided ice hockey fans

The hockey world was quickly divided over Provorov’s decision and post-game commentary.

Coach John Tortorella defended Provorov, saying the Russian defender was “true to himself and to his religion”.

“That’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself,” Tortorella said.

But some leading media figures have attacked Provorov for his decision and the reasoning behind it.

“But Provorov obviously doesn’t respect ‘everyone,'” tweeted TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. “If he respected everyone he would have attended the warm-up and worn the Pride Night jersey. Don’t hide behind religion.’

The Philadelphia Flyers' Samuel Errson #33 looks on while standing in the tunnel leading to the ice surface before his game against Anaheim at the Wells Fargo Center

The Philadelphia Flyers’ Samuel Errson #33 looks on while standing in the tunnel leading to the ice surface before his game against Anaheim at the Wells Fargo Center

Joel Farabee #86, Rasmus Ristolainen #55, Carter Hart #79 and Cam York #45 of the Philadelphia Flyers skate during warm up before their game against the Anaheim Ducks

Joel Farabee #86, Rasmus Ristolainen #55, Carter Hart #79 and Cam York #45 of the Philadelphia Flyers skate during warm up before their game against the Anaheim Ducks

SB Nation NHL editor Steph Driver pointed out that the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers, was the first to threaten fans with homophobic slurs with evictions.

“Ivan Provorov was allowed to play in a game for the Philadelphia Flyers – the organization that was the first to say you’ll be removed from the arena if you utter a homophobic slur – after refusing to wear a Pride logo to warm up .” Driver tweeted. “What an absolute disgrace.”

But many fans lined up to support Provorov.

“I love his courage and right to stand up for his beliefs,” tweeted one supporter. “I can’t wait for the day when that’s the popular choice as opposed to today when you have to agree with what others believe. He said it well, he respects everyone but believes differently.’

Coach John Tortorella defended Provorov, saying the Russian defender was

Coach John Tortorella defended Provorov, saying the Russian defender was “true to himself and to his religion”. “It’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself,” said Tortorella (left) after Tuesday’s win in Philadelphia

The Flyers would defeat visiting Anaheim Ducks 5-2 in Philadelphia on Tuesday

The Flyers would defeat visiting Anaheim Ducks 5-2 in Philadelphia on Tuesday

1674050364 555 Flyers Ivan Provorov BOYCOTTS takes a shot before the game 1674050366 758 Flyers Ivan Provorov BOYCOTTS takes a shot before the game

Flyers players James van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton are staunch supporters of the community and have created a program to support local LGBTQ+ youth in the Philadelphia area.

Laughton and van Riemsdyk met with around 50 people from the LGBTQ+ community after the game. Laughton said that overall the Flyers had a “great, great night that gets a lot of attention”.

Laughton said further talks would be forthcoming with Provorov, who moved to the United States from Russia as a teenager. He signed a six-year, $40.5 million contract ahead of the 2019 season and won the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the Flyers’ outstanding defenseman in his rookie season, becoming the youngest Philadelphia player to receive the honor.

“I don’t blame anyone,” Laughton said. “It’s not like that. It was a great night and I’m very happy that we won on a night like this.”

Ivan Provorov No. 9 of the Philadelphia Flyers runs the puck past No. 49 Max Jones of the Anaheim Ducks during the third period at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night

Ivan Provorov No. 9 of the Philadelphia Flyers runs the puck past No. 49 Max Jones of the Anaheim Ducks during the third period at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night

All-Star forward Kevin Hayes, who had a hat-trick in the Anaheim win, said “It’s not my place to answer” when asked how he felt about Provorov’s decision.

The Wells Fargo Center was decked out in rainbow colors Tuesday night representing the LGBTQ+ community through special rainbow-themed arena LEDs, decorations and team merchandise.

“The Philadelphia Flyers organization is committed to inclusion and proud to support the LGBTQ+ community,” the team said in a statement after the game. “Many of our players actively support 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 inclusion and the LGBTQ+ community.”

The NHL is also committed to the You Can Play Project, which aims to ensure equality, respect, and safety for all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation. The NHL has never had an openly gay active player.

One hockey website, MoneyPuck.com, streamlined its flyer page and wrote Provorov’s name in rainbow colors.

Additionally, all readers who click on Provorov’s rainbow-colored name will be directed to a donation page for the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that, according to its website, works to fight suicide “among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and polling youth “ starts .

One hockey website, MoneyPuck.com, streamlined its flyer page and wrote Provorov's name in rainbow colors.  Additionally, all readers who click on Provorov's rainbow-colored name will be directed to a donation page for the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that, according to its website, works to fight suicide

One hockey website, MoneyPuck.com, streamlined its flyer page and wrote Provorov’s name in rainbow colors. Additionally, all readers who click on Provorov’s rainbow-colored name will be directed to a donation page for the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that, according to its website, works to fight suicide “among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and polling youth “ begins

The Tampa Bay Rays shared the custom-made uniforms for their Pride Night event on June 4 on social media.  Five players from the team refused to wear them and instead wore their regular uniforms

The Tampa Bay Rays shared the custom-made uniforms for their Pride Night event on June 4 on social media. Five players from the team refused to wear them and instead wore their regular uniforms

The 31-year-old shared his comments on Tuesday after five of his teammates opted not to wear LGBTQ colors on their uniforms

The 31-year-old shared his comments on Tuesday after five of his teammates opted not to wear LGBTQ colors on their uniforms

Some Rays fans wore rainbow colors at Tropicana Field on Saturday night in support of the local LGBTQ community

Some Rays fans wore rainbow colors at Tropicana Field on Saturday night in support of the local LGBTQ community

This is hardly the first time the Pride celebration has divided professional athletes.

In June, some Tampa Bay Rays players decided not to wear rainbow-colored logos on their uniforms as part of the team’s annual “Pride Night.”

Reliever Jason Adam was among those who decided against it, saying it was a “faith-based decision” for him.

“It’s exactly what we think of as the lifestyle he has [Jesus] encouraged us to live for our good and not hold back,” Adam told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we love these men and women, we care about them and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.”

A month earlier, Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye mysteriously missed a game after learning his team would wear shirts with rainbow-colored lettering. His manager Mauricio Pochettino later confirmed his absence was due to “personal reasons” and not an injury.

While the French Football Federation and other organizations are asking Gueye to explain his decision, the Senegal native has been backed by his president Macky Sall, who said “religious beliefs must be respected”.

Gueye is a devout Muslim.

The French Football Federation have asked Idrissa Gueye to clarify reports that he refused to wear a rainbow jersey in PSG's 4-0 win over Montpellier last year

The French Football Federation have asked Idrissa Gueye to clarify reports that he refused to wear a rainbow jersey in PSG’s 4-0 win over Montpellier last year

PSG took to the pitch in the special shirts ahead of the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on Tuesday 17 May 2022

PSG took to the pitch in the special shirts ahead of the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on Tuesday 17 May 2022

Another soccer player, Jaelene Daniels, has refused to wear rainbow jerseys on multiple occasions, both with the US national team and with the NWSL’s Carolina Courage.

And in 2015, after same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States, she tweeted, “This world is getting farther and farther from God… All believers can do is keep praying.”

There was controversy when she signed for courage during football’s off-season last December and Daniels responded with a statement in which she said: “I remain committed to my faith and my desire for people to know that my love for them is not.” based on their belief system or sexuality.

“I pray and truly believe that my teammates know how much I appreciate, respect and love them.”

Courage's decision to re-sign Daniels in 2021 was met with controversy among fans

Courage’s decision to re-sign Daniels in 2021 was met with controversy among fans