Luke Prokop, a prospect for the Nashville Predators and the first openly gay player under contract in the NHL, lamented the lack of support for LGBTQ “Pride Night” that has pervaded throughout the league.
In a lengthy statement released on Twitter, Prokop wrote that the lack of support for Pride Night “feels like a step back for inclusion.”
“I share the disappointment in what feels like a step back for inclusion in the NHL,” Prokop wrote. “Pride nights and pride jerseys play an important role in promoting respect and inclusion in the LGBTQIA+ community, and it’s disheartening to see some teams no longer wearing them or fully embracing their significance, while the focus of others has become about the players who aren’t participating rather than the meaning of the night itself.”
“Everyone is entitled to their own set of beliefs but I think it’s important to recognize the difference between endorsing a community and respecting individuals within it,” he continued.
Prokop further believed that Pride Nights provide an “essential step towards fostering greater acceptance and understanding in hockey.”
“I strongly believe that by prioritizing diversity and inclusion, we can create an environment where every player feels comfortable bringing their authentic selves to the game. As someone who aspires to play on an NHL team one day, I would want to enter the locker room knowing I can share all parts of my identity with my teammates,” he said.
As Breitbart News reported this week, San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer chose not to wear a pride-themed warm-up jersey in a recent game, citing his Christian faith.
“For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian — not just in title, but in how I choose to live my life daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and follow him,” he said.
“I have no hate in my heart for anyone, and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness. In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life,” he added.
NHL Pride Nights became a hot topic of conversation earlier this year when Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to participate in his team’s Pride Night due to his orthodox Christian faith, sparking outrage from leftists who proceeded to accuse him of bigotry and homophobia. However, the Philadelphia Flyers kept him in the lineup and the team even went on to win the game against the Anaheim Ducks.
“I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices,” he said after the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”
As Breitbart News reported, the New York Rangers followed the Provorov controversy by hosting its own Pride Night without the aforementioned rainbow jerseys.
“Our organization respects the LGBTQ+ community, and we are proud to bring attention to important local community organizations as part of another great Pride Night. In keeping with our organization’s core values, we support everyone’s individual right to respectfully express their beliefs,” the Rangers said at the time.