Report: Blackhawks will not wear Pride Night jerseys, cite 'safety concerns' for Russian players

The decision reportedly comes from the organization, and not the players.

The Chicago Blackhawks will reportedly not be wearing Pride-themed warm-up jerseys ahead of their upcoming Pride Night game on Sunday, per Ben Pope of The Chicago Sun Times.

Per Pope, as well as Mark Lazerus of The Athletic, the decision comes from the organization itself, rather than the players, and is primarily related to “safety concerns over Russia's anti-LGBTQ propaganda law.”

Among the players that the Russian law affects includes three players of Russian origin on Chicago’s roster: defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, Swiss forward Philipp Kurashev, and Kazakh goaltender Anton Khudobin.

The Blackhawks also released a statement following the report, though they neglected to divulge any details. The organization will reportedly still go through with other Pride themed initiatives, including intermission events, entertainment, and themed photo-ops.

"While we know game day celebrations like these are an important way we can use our platform to bring visibility, it is the work we do together 365 days a year that can create true impact in ensuring all of our colleagues, fans and communities feel welcomed and safe within our sport," the statement reads.

Chicago’s decision comes as a surprise in some respects given that players, including defenseman Connor Murphy, expected the team to go through with plans to wear the jerseys, even in the wake of recent inflection points on the issue.

“I don’t think we really had anything that we needed to talk about,” Murphy told Lazerus earlier this month. “I don’t think we have anyone, that I know of, that wouldn’t support that. I think it was surprising to see that stuff came up this year. We’ve been doing it for so many years, so it’s not like it’s a new subject.”

The Blackhawks are the fourth NHL team this season to opt against wearing themed warm-up jerseys for Pride Night. (Getty Images)
The Blackhawks are the fourth NHL team this season to opt against wearing themed warm-up jerseys for Pride Night. (Getty Images)

With the decision, Chicago becomes the fourth organization, following the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Minnesota Wild, to opt not to wear the Pride-themed warm-up jerseys.

It’s yet another instance in a string of disheartening decisions from across the National Hockey League as teams and players opt not to don the themed sweaters.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to take part in warmups back in January on the basis of religious reasons, as did San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer on the same principle last week. Notably, multiple Russian teammates of Reimer agreed to wear Pride jerseys, with no reported blowback.