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Chicago Blackhawks Will Not Be Wearing Pride-Themed Jerseys: Here’s Why

It seems that the Chicago hockey team, the Blackhawks, will not be wearing pride-themed jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against the Vancouver hockey team, the Canucks. This is a first for the Chicago hockey team because, during 2022’s Pride Night, they were seen wearing warmup jerseys. This announcement which is being classified as a “black eye for NHL Pride Nights,” came with a clarification that it was not the player’s choice but the organization’s. The reason is Vladimir Putin.

In December of last year, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, president of Russia, signed expanded LGBTQ laws, one of which is the LGBTQ propaganda law. This bill makes it illegal for anyone to promote same-sex relationships or suggests that non-heterosexual orientations are “normal.” This is, in part, a defense against US influence in Russia since the president equated the US’s LGBTQ freedom to devil worshipping and did not understand the need for that freedom to be expanded worldwide: “Let them live there, do not touch us.”

The uncertain implications of this new Russian law that bans LGBTQ propaganda- and the three Hawks players either from Russia or of Russian heritage, some with family in Russia- is what prompted the decision to skip out on the rainbow-themed jerseys. Security officials claimed it was due to “safety concerns” for the Russian players.

While the Pride-themed jerseys will not be worn, the team claims that a myriad of activities in relation to the LGBTQ community will still take place: “the team will highlight various LGBTQ+ groups during intermissions Sunday.” This includes the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, DJ Zel, and the Chicago Gay Hockey Association.

The reasoning for why the other non-Russian players can’t still sport the jersey can be seen in a tweet by Mark Lazerus of the Athletic: “I wish the Blackhawks would just let those three players sit out warmups so the others can participate freely, but the argument against that is then those players have to make statements, statements which could put them in a situation to speak ill of the Russian government.”

However, there are still people who believe this to be a cover-up for players refusing to partake in the featuring of the jersey. The explanation behind their claim is the comparison of other teams composed of Russian players: “The Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings each have a Russian-born player. The San Jose Sharks have two. All four of these players were in the lineup when their teams wore Pride jerseys (Dallas on Tuesday and the Kings and Sharks on Saturday). Why was this not an issue with these teams, but it is in Chicago?”. Another confusion that arose within the public was the Blackhawks’ public support of Ukraine contradicting the danger of Pride-themed jerseys.

Whatever the reason for the backing out of wearing the jerseys, it has definitely started to create a backlash, be it toward Putin or towards the players themselves. All in defense of a night of celebration.


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