What do the Philadelphia Flyers think about hosting Pride Night?
We’ll start with the canned answer, submitted to Daily Faceoff Tuesday evening in a statement reacting to the news that defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to wear a Pride jersey during the pre-game warmup on the grounds of his Russian Orthodox religious beliefs.
“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.”
On paper, that’s what you want to see from an organization that has been, at least compared to many NHL franchises, committed to efforts promoting inclusivity (well, when not previously showcasing its ties to Chick-fil-A, whose ownership has funded Anti-Equity causes). Two of the Flyers’ more prominent players, James van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton, have gone above and beyond empty gestures, working with You Can Play to provide tickets for 12 games this season, as just one example of their work.
But what transpired with Provorov Tuesday night sent a different message. Intentional or not, it contradicted everything the Flyers were supposedly attempting to promote. It made Pride Night look like a quick chore that merely checked a box to appease a marginalized segment of their fan base.
At its worst, such as when the St. Louis Blues embarrassingly hosted it for a road game in 2020, a team Pride Night can function as a performative shrug, accomplishing the bare minimum, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community for one night per season. Pride Tape on stick blades? Mission accomplished, box ticked, onto the next cause.