The Montreal Canadiens Will Wear Pride-Themed Jerseys Tonight — Except One Player Who Said No
"I've never been in his shoes," his coach said in response.
Montreal Canadiens player Denis Gurianov was excluded from Thursday's pre-game warmups ahead of the Habs' annual Pride Night game due to his refusal to wear the pride-themed jersey associated with the occasion.
At a press conference, Canadiens coach Martin St-Louis addressed his absence, saying the Russian player "won't be participating for family reasons," and adding that he "won't judge Guri, as I've never been in his shoes."
In a statement shared on Twitter and on their website, the Canadiens affirmed their proud support of "the LGBTQIA+ community through fundraising and awareness efforts related to an annual Pride Night game."
\u201cA statement from the Montreal Canadiens\u201d— Canadiens Montr\u00e9al (@Canadiens Montr\u00e9al) 1680794142
"Wearing Pride colours and jerseys is a message to groups lacking representation that hockey is for everyone," the release continued. "We were made aware that one of our players has chosen to not wear the special Pride jersey ahead of tonight's game for family reasons, and as such, he will not participate in the warmups with his teammates."
After being asked whether Gurianov's choice not to wear Pride colours was related to a Russian law, most likely referring to the legislation prohibiting sharing positive or neutral information about 2SLGBTQIA+ people, St-Louis confirmed that it was indeed the reason behind the player's decision.
"While we understand the decision, we also hope the focus of attention remains where it belongs: on evolving as a society to be more accepting and welcoming of all, without exception," the Habs release concluded.
Whatever the specific family reasons may be that allegedly prevent Gurianov from sending the same message as the rest of his teammates on Pride Night, there has been no sign that he will be sitting out of tonight's game.