(Reuters) – San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer said he will not wear the National Hockey League team’s Pride jersey during warm-ups ahead of their game against the New York Islanders on Saturday because they do not align with his religious beliefs.
The 35-year-old Canadian said the decision was based on his Christian beliefs and added that he has “always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect,” and that all members of the LGBTQ+ community should be welcomed in hockey.
“In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life,” Reimer said in a statement.
Reimer is the second NHL player to refuse to participate in a team’s Pride-themed initiatives following a similar decision by Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov in January.
In addition, both the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild opted against wearing Pride jerseys and using sticks wrapped in rainbow tape during their Pride nights in January.
As part of the Sharks’ Pride Night, the team had specially-designed nameplates put on locker stalls while some players will use Pride Tape on their sticks. There will also be Pride-themed corporate partner boards around the rink.
The Sharks said in a separate statement that they are proud to host Pride Night and that it reinforces the team’s commitment to inclusiveness but also said they support Reimer’s decision.
“As we promote these standards, we also acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” the Sharks said.
“As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Nick Zieminski)