By DAN GELSTON
AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov cited his Russian Orthodox religion as the reason he did not participate in pregame warmups when the team wore Pride-themed jerseys and used warmup sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape.
The 26-year-old Provorov did not skate with his teammates before Tuesday night’s game against Anaheim as the Flyers celebrated their annual Pride night in celebration and support of the LGBTQ+ community. He played nearly 23 minutes in Philadelphia’s 5-2 victory.
“I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said after the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Provorov declined to answer follow-up questions about his decision.
The jerseys and sticks were set to be auctioned off by the Flyers following the game, with proceeds going to the team’s charity and its efforts to grow the game of hockey in diverse communities.
The Flyers also hosted a pregame skate for local LGBTQ+ youth. Flyers players James van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton have been staunch supporters of the community and launched a program in support of local LGBTQ+ youth in the greater Philadelphia area.
Flyers coach John Tortorella said Provorov “was true to himself and to his religion.”
“It’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself,” Tortorella said.
All-Star forward Kevin Hayes, who had a hat trick in the win over Anaheim, said “it’s not for me to answer” when asked how he felt about Provorov’s decision.
The Wells Fargo Center was decorated Tuesday night in rainbow hues representing the LGBTQ+ community through special pride-themed arena LEDs, décor and rainbow-themed team merchandise.
“The Philadelphia Flyers organization is committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community,” the team said in a statement after the game. “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.”
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