Edmonton Oilers in full support of NHL Pride Night

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Edmonton Oilers in support of NHL Pride Night
WATCH: While some players and teams have opted out of participating in NHL Pride Night, the Edmonton Oilers are fully on board. Slav Kornik has more. – Mar 25, 2023

The NHL is celebrating Pride Nights this weekend, an event intended to celebrate inclusion, but the decision of a few players not to participate in the initiative has put the event in an unwanted spotlight.

“It’s definitely disappointing, but perhaps not surprising if you just look at the state of the world we’re in right now,” said Kristopher Wells, an associate professor at MacEwan University.

Florida Panthers brothers Marc and Eric Staal are the most recent players to refuse to wear the pride-themes warmup jersey, citing religious beliefs.

Click to play video: 'NHL Pride Night: Focus should be on overall progress, not individual players, LGBTQ+ advocates say'
NHL Pride Night: Focus should be on overall progress, not individual players, LGBTQ+ advocates say

“It’s a bit hypocritical to bring forward a religious perspective, to say, ‘I’m going to follow these beliefs under my religion and not these others ones,’” said Wells.

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Three NHL teams have decided not to have their players wear the Pride warmup jersey, including the Chicago Blackhawks. The organization says the decision is out of concern for their Russian players, since Russia has passed an anti-gay law.

Click to play video: 'NHL Pride night controversy'
NHL Pride night controversy

“If there is a credible threat to players’ safety, then I think you need to take action, but what you could do is simply sit those Russian players out and explain to people why you’re doing it,” said Wells.

The Edmonton Oilers say they have no such issues.

“We know all the players will be participating using the Pride tape, again, the Edmonton-made tape in warmup and we’re just excited that everybody’s on board with said,” said Tim Shipton, executive vice-president of OEG Communications and Gaming.

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“I know here in Edmonton we strongly believe hockey is for everyone,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid.

Zach Hyman says supporting the LGBTQ2 community is important to him.

“They’re a minority and they faced a lot of persecution over the years and to show that we care and that we’re willing and ready to include them in our game, in our sport,” he said.

It’s views like Hyman’s that Wells believes should be the focus of the event.

“What I think is the real story about Pride Nights is not the one or two players who are objecting and refusing to wear the jerseys, it’s the overwhelming number of players who are in support,” he said.

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