Canadian sports pundit Sid Seixeiro blasted Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov for his decision to boycott the organization’s festivities surrounding its Pride night and hit the NHL for allowing it to happen in a lengthy rant Wednesday morning.
Seixeiro appeared on “Breakfast Television” and called on the NHL to fine the Flyers over Provorov and said the league needed to “reevaluate” how it supports gay rights.
“The theme from the National Hockey League is that hockey is for everyone. The theme isn’t hockey is for everyone dot, dot, dot unless you don’t believe in gay rights then do whatever you want,” he said. “If the National Hockey League is going to do this, if any league is going to do this, do it properly or reevaluate what you’re doing because there’s not a lot of repercussions that I’m seeing from any league.
“Now, it could change with the NHL. I think you fine the Flyers $1 million for this, I’m not kidding. Figure this out and stop offending people on nights where it’s not about that. It’s about inclusivity. The National Hockey League need to attack this and figure this out because what I heard last night was offensive and didn’t make any sense.
“For instance, if that was a military night, if anyone in Canada or the States on a military appreciation night wouldn’t wear a jersey pregame do you have any idea the uproar that would’ve happened on that? Do you have any idea the backlash? Do you have any idea what would happen on social media? It’s ridiculous what would’ve happened.
“I think the NHL has to do something here. This is not good enough. This is not good enough. Hockey is for everyone dot, dot, dot unless you don’t agree with gay rights is not the phrasing it is. You’re either in this or you’re not.”
Provorov didn’t participate in pregame warmups when the team wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape. He cited his Russian Orthodox religion as the reason why he didn’t participate. He eventually played in the game against the Anaheim Ducks.
“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices,” he told reporters after the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Seixeiro took issue that Provorov’s religious beliefs impacted the decision on whether he participated in Pride night.
“And one last point – nothing scares me more than any human being who says I’m not doing this because of my religious beliefs,” he said. “Because when you look at people’s lives who normally say that publicly, you’d throw up at what you saw. You would throw up at what you saw. And I’ve seen that a million times in a lot of different ways. So don’t give me that. With respect, don’t gimme that, because no one’s perfect. Don’t feed me the religious beliefs line and all of a sudden the NHL is going to back off this.
“The National Hockey League today needs to fine that organization $1 million and reevaluate how they support gay rights because that is insulting. That is the No. 1 trending topic in Canada. That is insulting what happened in Philadelphia. If the NHL is serious about this, they say they are, we’ll see. We’ll see how serious they are today. But that whole thing was mishandled. Part of me couldn’t believe it. Part of me could give how the NHL sometimes handles things.”
The NHL didn’t appear to be ready to fine anyone over Provorov’s decision.
“Hockey is for Everyone is the umbrella initiative under which the League encourages Clubs to celebrate the diversity that exists in their respective markets, and to work to achieve more welcoming and inclusive environments for all fans,” the league said in a statement. “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.”
The Russia native, who is in his seventh season with the Flyers, received backlash on social media for the boycott.