Ivan Provorov skips warm-ups on Pride night and cites religious beliefs

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One night after a bombing in Boston, the leaflets bounced back with a 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. It was the team’s eighth win in the last 10 games with the holiday break. Star Kevin Hayes had a hat trick. All these things should be history. They are not.

Instead is the story Ivan Provorov, who sat out Tuesday’s warmups to magically appear on the roster minutes before the puck was dropped. The reason was not an injury or illness.

The Flyers celebrated Pride Night on Tuesday night, and the team wore special Pride jerseys for the warmup. At the end of the competition, the team released a statement about their stance in support of LGBTQ+ rights.

The Philadelphia Flyers organization is committed to inclusion and is proud to support local LGBTQ+ organizations, and we were proud to host our annual Pride Night again this year. The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusion and the LGBTQ+ community.”

Moments later the head coach Jean Tortorelle addressed the media and commented on Provorov’s absence during the warm-up.

“The organization released a statement on a very good evening about the organization, the beliefs we hold and what we think about it. With Provy, he is true to himself and his religion,” said Tortorella. “It has to do with his faith and his religion. It’s something I respect about Provy. He is always true to himself.”

Tortorella added that there was no question of scratching him.

“We talked to Provy as a team here, and that’s where we are,” Tortorella said.

Provorov also briefly addressed the media in the locker room.

“I respect everyone. I respect everyone’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my beliefs,” said Provorov. “That’s all I’ll say.”

Provorov, adding that his religion is Russian Orthodox, declined further comment.

At a time when the team is starting to show signs of growth and cohesion in the locker room, the opposite effect is emerging.

A player who opted out of a warm-up by wearing a jersey celebrating the LGBTQ+ community was subsequently able to take part in the match and played a record 10:45pm after speaking out against that community. It offers a horrifying optics for the Flyers organization, which has made far too many missteps in recent years.

While Provorov spoke to the media, Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk were hanging out with about 50 members of the LGBTQ+ community after the game.

“It was a great evening, a great initiative and something that has been close to my heart for a long time. It’s a great, great night that brings a lot of awareness and all that stuff. I know they let it speak.

“I think we’ve had those conversations and I think they’re ongoing. I think it’s come a long way, in the years I’ve been here, since they started You Can Play. We had a great night tonight it was great to see all these people and have it all and see the signs in the warm ups I think that’s what you get into and to see how many people you can get through this influence, so that’s great.”

For the efforts of players like Laughton and van Riemsdyk, who met community members and showed their support by helping to organize the evening, it’s a contradictory look. This indicates how much work still needs to be done. Laughton said it was part of the talks.

He has already explained why he chose this. I’m sure there will be talks later on,’ Laughton said. “I don’t have anything against anyone. It’s not like that. It was a great night and I’m really happy that we won such a night and made a lot of people smile on their faces.”

Laughton’s efforts have done a great job of putting a smile on everyone’s face, especially the celebrated LGBTQ+ community. But the Flyers’ reputation with the community is certainly under scrutiny after what happened before Tuesday’s game.

Kevin Durso is the Flyers Insider for 97.3 ESPN and the Flyers Editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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