Sabres' Russian player won't take part in Pride night warmup

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Ilya Lyubushkin is citing an anti-gay Kremlin law and fears of facing retribution at home in Russia for electing not to participate in the Buffalo Sabres’ pregame warmups on Pride night, when players are expected to wear Pride-themed jerseys.

The team announced Lyubushkin’s decision Monday morning. Lyubushkin is from Moscow, where he has family and visits regularly in the offseason.

The 28-year-old defenseman is expected to play Monday night against Montreal despite not taking part in warmups. Other players are set to not only wear the rainbow-colored jerseys but use Pride tape on their sticks. The Sabres as an organization are so intent on promoting Pride night that they changed their social media avatar to feature their logo encircled by a rainbow-colored outline.

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Pride nights around the NHL have been in the spotlight in recent months, with a handful of incidents related to pregame warmups.

Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers, James Reimer of the San Jose Sharks and brothers Eric and Marc Staal of the Florida Panthers all refused to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys, citing religious beliefs, while the New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks opted not to have players wear them.

The Blackhawks, like Lyubushkin, cited a law passed last year in Russia that expanded the restrictions on supporting LGBTQ+ rights in the country as their reasoning.


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John Wawrow, The Associated Press

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