Philadelphia, January 20, 2023
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov has found himself the object of both praise and scorn after he took a stand for his Orthodox faith earlier this week.
The PA hockey team held its annual Pride Night on Tuesday, with players wearing LGBTQ-themed warmup jerseys and wielding rainbow-taped sticks. However, Provorov was noticeably absent from the pregame routine (though he did join his teammates for the game itself).
“I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov told reporters after the game, reports National Review. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Asked which religion, he responded, “Russian Orthodox.”
While the Flyers organization issued a statement affirming its “commit[ment] to inclusivity” and pride in “support[ing] the LGBTQ+ community,” head coach John Tortorella also commended Provorov for sticking to his convictions.
“He’s being true to himself and his religion. This has to do with his beliefs and his religion,” Tortorella said, reports Yahoo! Sports. “It’s one thing I respect about [Provorov]—he’s always true to himself.”
Neither the team nor the NHL intend to punish the Orthodox player. “Players are free to decide which initiatives to support,” the league said.
On the other hand, Provorov has, unsurprisingly, come under media fire. Canadian sports commentator Sid Seixeiro declared: “The National Hockey League needs to attack this and figure this out, because what I heard last night was offensive and didn’t make any sense… Nothing scares me more than any human being who says I’m not doing this because of my religious beliefs.”
NHL Network senior reporter EJ Hradek said if Provorov can’t stand behind the LGBTQ lifestyle, then he should just go back to Russia where he can feel more comfortable, or go fight in Ukraine.
Hockey News writer Adam Proteau proclaimed: “He’s a shameful human being whose homophobia is only going to get more shameful over the years.”
On the other hand, hockey fans and regular Americans have rallied around the religious Flyer. His jersey has sold out in many online stores and he is listed as having the most popular men’s jersey, women’s jersey, and sweatshirt, and his Branded Backer shirt is the bigger Flyers-related seller.