On Tuesday night, Ivan Provorov exposed himself to be the man that he is.
During the game against the Anaheim Ducks, the Philadelphia Flyers held their annual Pride Night and for the first time ever, the team wore custom pride jerseys during warmups, with a simple rainbow design on the names and numbers of the jersey. Notably, the 26-year-old defenseman was absent from the pre-game skate. He would then join the team in the regular jersey when the game was about to begin.
Later, it was made public that he did not participate in the pre-game warmups because he didn’t want to wear the team’s Pride Night jersey designed to celebrate Philadelphia’s wonderful LGBTQ+ community.
After the game — in which he went without a point — he defended his stupid and bigoted action citing religious reasons.
“I respect everyone. I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion,” Provorov said.
Provorov later said that his beliefs are rooted in the Russian Orthodox religion.
Before anyone appeared in front of the media, the Flyers released a statement highlighting their commitment to their Pride Night and the local community. Everyone already knew where this was going.
“The Philadelphia Flyers organization is committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community. Many of our players are active in their support of local LGBTQ+ organizations, and we were proud to host our annual Pride Night again this year. The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community,” a team spokesperson said.
One of the most obvious missteps the Flyers took was head coach John Tortorella still having Provorov play the game after holding out, making it seem like there were no consequences for wrongfully not participating in what should be a nice demonstration. But for the coach, he did not consider scratching the defenseman because of this.
“No,” Tortorella told reporters. “We talked as a team and with Provy. ... I think the organization has sent out a release – the belief we have and how we feel about it. Really, a great night. With Provy, he’s being true to himself and his religion. This has to do with his belief and his religion. That’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself.”
The coach declined to comment and further and any more questions about Provorov were quickly shot down.
What the next step in all of this is still unknown and we will just have to see if the NHL itself gets involved, especially considering how many more LGBTQ+ initiatives the league has gotten involved with in recent years.
Plainly, it is not acceptable for someone to hide behind religion as a reason to be that outwardly hateful to other people. Provorov was not aggressive in any tone or words, but the sheer disregard for what this night might have meant for people in the local LGBTQ+ community in Philadelphia is cowardly and his action to not participate demonstrated his bigotry.