The Chicago Blackhawks will forgo wearing Pride jerseys during their warmup skate Sunday before facing the Vancouver Canucks over fears of retaliation against its players of Russian descent.
The jerseys — which feature rainbow colors on the numbers — could be construed as violating a new Russian law that bans the promotion of “gay propaganda,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
CNN reported that the law, which took effect in December, makes it illegal for Russians to “praise” LGBTQ relationships or suggest they are normal.
The front office made the decision in the interest of protecting three Blackhawk players who have family in Russia or are of Russian heritage. That includes Russian defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, Swiss forward Philipp Kurashev and Kazakh goalie Anton Khudobin.
Chicago is the fourth team to bail on wearing the Pride jerseys. The other teams are the Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders and New York Rangers.
The trend first garnered attention when Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov opted to not wear the jersey during the team’s Pride night celebration in January. He pointed to his Russian Orthodox religious beliefs as the reason.