Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov did not participate in the team's LGBTQ+ Pride Night festivities Tuesday night — which included wearing a rainbow-themed warmup jersey prior to the Flyers' game against the Anaheim Ducks.
The 26-year-old Provorov, who says he is Russian Orthodox, explained that he chose not to participate because of his religious beliefs.
"I respect everybody's choices," he told reporters after the game at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, which the Flyers won 5-2. "My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion."
Flyers coach John Tortorella did not bench Provorov, and came to his defense, saying Provorov is "being true to himself and to his religion."
"This has to do with his belief and his religion," Tortorella said in his postgame comments. "It's one thing I respect about Provy: He's always true to himself. That's where we're at with that."
In a statement provided to to CBS News Wednesday, the NHL wrote, in part: "Clubs decide whom to celebrate, when and how — with League counsel and support. Players are free to decide which initiatives to support, and we continue to encourage their voices and perspectives on social and cultural issues."
In a statement issued ahead of the game, A Flyers spokesperson said the team is "committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community," according to Hockey Insider Frank Seravalli.
"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 statement read. "The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community."
Prior to their win Tuesday, the Flyers' players wore special warmup jerseys and used sticks in rainbow tape. The items were auctioned off and the proceeds will go towards supporting "those and their families affected by cancer, growing the game, and improving sustainability efforts," according to auction website Handbid.
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