Canadiens' Denis Gurianov won't wear Pride jersey, will sit out warmups

Gurianov joins a list of Russian NHLers that have opted against wearing Pride-themed jerseys this season.

Montreal Canadiens forward Denis Gurianov will not partake in warmups for Pride Night after choosing not to wear a themed jersey, the team announced on Thursday.

The decision is related to family reasons, per Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis. The Canadiens will be wearing a Pride-themed warmup jersey.

“I haven’t walked a day in (Gurianov’s) shoes,” St. Louis said when asked if he was disappointed that the Canadiens didn’t have full participation from the entire room. “I know one thing…you should always try to protect your family. So I have a tough time judging that.”

Canadiens forward Denis Gurianov is the latest NHL player to opt out of wearing a Pride-themed warmup jersey. (Getty Images)
Canadiens forward Denis Gurianov is the latest NHL player to opt out of wearing a Pride-themed warmup jersey. (Getty Images)

The Canadiens also released a statement ahead of their annual Pride Night celebration, reaffirming the club-wide support for the evening.

“We were made aware that one of our players has chosen to not wear the special Pride jersey ahead of tonight’s game for family reasons, and as such, he will not participate in the warmups with his teammates,” the statement read in part. “While we understand the decision, we also hope the focus of attention remains where it belongs: on evolving as a society to be more accepting and welcoming of all, without exception.”

St. Louis reiterated that stance in his personal beliefs, vocalizing his support for the celebratory night.

"We're all on this planet. We should love each other, and tonight's one of those nights (to show that)," he said. "The Montreal Canadiens really care about this night, and so do I."

Gurianov’s absence from warmups makes him the latest in a string of players and teams to opt out of wearing Pride Night jerseys.

Previously, Sabres defenceman Ilya Lybushkin, Canucks forward Andrei Kuzmenko, and Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov said they would not wear their respective team’s Pride jerseys — or decal in the case of Samsonov — in fear of a Russian law that prohibits citizens from showing solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community — though there is dispute, including from the NHL, as to how much material threat there is for Russian NHLers. Others, including Flyers defenceman Ivan Provorov, Sharks goaltender James Reimer, and Eric and Marc Staal, both of the Florida Panthers, have cited religious beliefs as the driving force behind their decisions.