SUNRISE, Fla. — Brothers Eric and Marc Staal of the Florida Panthers declined to wear special Pride-themed warmup jerseys ahead of the team’s 6-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
The jerseys were part of Florida’s Pride night game in support of the area’s LGBTQ community, and the brothers cited their religion as the reason for their decision.
“We carry no judgement on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey,” the Staal brothers said in a statement. “Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a Pride jersey it goes against our Christian beliefs.”
While the Staal brothers declined to participate, Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was one of the Panthers who went ahead with the Pride-themed jerseys.
The Chicago Blackhawks have decided against wearing special warmup jerseys to commemorate their Pride night on Sunday, citing an anti-gay Kremlin law that could imperil Russian athletes when they return home. The decision was made by the organization after conversations with its players.
Auston Matthews had two goals for Toronto, and Matt Murray made 33 saves. Mitchell Marner and William Nylander each had a goal and an assist, and John Tavares finished with three assists.
The Maple Leafs won for the third time in four games, bouncing back nicely after a 7-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
Matthew Tkachuk and Nick Cousins scored for the Panthers. Bobrovsky made 21 saves.
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