After previously advertising they would wear LGBTQ+-themed warmup jerseys and use rainbow tape for their seventh annual Pride Night, New York Rangers players reversed course.
The team did have NYC Pride Co-Chair Andre Thomas for the ceremonial puck drop, but he was unaware the team made a last-minute decision on something it has done previous years.
When asked why they ditched the jerseys, the Rangers gave Fox News Media the following statement:
“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.”
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However, the absence of the jerseys and tape was a glaring omission for NYC Pride, and the organization released the following statement to ESPN:
“In recent years, numerous National Hockey League (NHL) franchises including the New York Rangers have introduced a series of ‘Pride Nights' to engage the LGBTQ+ community.
“NYC Pride has been honored to take part in these celebrations, including as recently as last night at Madison Square Garden. NYC Pride was not made aware in advance of our participation in last night's ceremonial puck drop that Pride jerseys and rainbow tape would not be worn as advertised. We understand and appreciate that this has been a major disappointment to the LGBTQ+ community in New York and beyond.
RANGERS BAIL ON WEARING LGBTQ-THEMED WARMUP JERSEYS ON PRIDE NIGHT
“We are communicating these concerns with NY Rangers and NHL leadership as we continue to discuss the ways these organizations can work toward inclusion. NYC Pride has a duty to both support our partners and hold them accountable. We are committed to continuing our relationships with the NY Rangers and the NHL and maintaining substantive dialogue with them about meaningful allyship with the LGBTQ+ community.”
One player told the New York Post he didn't know why the jerseys were not worn. The team made a contribution to the Ali Forney Center, an agency dedicated to homeless youths in the LGBTQ+ community.
Rangers pride jerseys have been auctioned for charity each of the last two seasons.
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This comes less than two weeks after Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov did not wear an LGBTQ-themed jersey during his team's Pride Night, citing religious beliefs.
“I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov told reporters after the Jan. 17 game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”