Calgary Flames unveil first-ever Pride jersey

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Flames unveil first-ever pride jersey ahead of 2023 Pride Night
WATCH: While some NHL players and teams have opted out of Pride Nights this season, the Calgary Flames say they’re all in for Tuesday’s theme game against the Los Angeles Kings. Cami Kepke spoke to players and got a look at the teams’ first-ever pride jersey. – Mar 27, 2023

Pride Nights in the NHL have sparked controversy this season with some players — and teams — refusing to take part.

Much of the contention can be traced back to Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Ivan Provorov declining to wear a Pride jersey or participate in warmups on Jan. 17th, citing his religious beliefs.

But in Calgary, players are stepping forward for a cause close to their hearts.

“When the thing first came out in Philly, we wanted someone to speak up and I said, I can do it,” Flames blueliner Rasmus Andersson said. “You know… It’s close. My aunt is gay and my cousin is gay. It’s my family.

“Everybody’s welcome. Especially in Calgary, especially in our organization. Doesn’t matter who you are. Doesn’t matter who you love. You’re welcome to play, and you’re welcome to be part of us.”

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Andersson, MacKenzie Weegar and Dillon Dube all stepped forward saying they wanted to model the team’s first-ever Pride jersey, which will be worn for warmups prior to Tuesday’s match against the Los Angeles Kings.

“We’re all equals, we’re all in this together, we’re all supporting everybody,” Dube said. “We just want everyone to come to the game tomorrow and feel welcome and be themselves.”

The design by local artist Megan Parker incorporates the plants and wildlife of Alberta with the colours and pattern of the Pride flag.

The team had previously used Pride tape on Hockey is For Everyone theme nights and participated in the annual Calgary Pride Parade.

It’s expected that all Flames players will wear the uniform and take part in warmups on Tuesday night in hopes of letting LGBTQ2 fans know they have a place in the Saddledome and the game as a whole.

“Oh yeah, they’ll wear them,” Head Coach Darryl Sutter said Monday morning. “I don’t think it’s been a real issue for the team at all.”

“The players talked about it a bit together,” Weegar added. “Everybody was just on the same page and on board.”

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Buffalo Sabres defenceman Ilya Lyubushkin is the most recent player to refuse to wear a Pride-themed warmup jersey, pointing to an anti-gay law passed in his native Russia.

Florida Panthers brothers Marc and Eric Staal cited their religion when boycotting warmups last week- prompting former Flame Matthew Tkachuk to speak out.

“We only have so many of these nights throughout the season, whether it’s ‘Military Night’ or ‘Hockey Fights Cancer Night,’ or whatever,” Tkachuk said post-game.

“A night like tonight, for me, is really about including everybody. In my opinion, it’s by far the greatest game in the world, and everyone’s invited in my locker room and our locker room as an organization.”

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It’s a sentiment Tkachuk’s old teammates appreciate.

“It’s a bit disappointing,” Weegar added. “I know it’s people about their beliefs and values, but, you know, I think it’s more just to welcome them in and make it a safe place. Putting the jersey on for 15 minutes can go a long way.”

Sutter and the players Global News spoke with said an out teammate would be welcome in their locker room.

Post-game, the jerseys will be signed and auctioned off in support of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) Inclusion Program.

The puck drops against the L.A. Kings on Tuesday, March 28 at 7:00 p.m.

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