Eric and Marc Staal, brothers and hockey players for the Detroit Red Wings, declined to wear Pride jerseys during warm-ups at a recent game against the Florida Panthers. The decision came as the Panthers celebrated inclusivity in sports through their "Hockey is for Everyone" initiative.
The Staals cited their religious beliefs as the reason for their decision not to participate in wearing the rainbow-colored jerseys. In a statement released by Eric Staal, he stated that while they support all individuals regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, they could not compromise on their faith.
"We fully support every individual's right to live and love how they choose," said Eric Staal. "However, we also believe in standing firm in our own religious beliefs."
The NHL has been vocal about promoting diversity and inclusion within its league. The "Hockey is for Everyone" campaign aims to create a safe space for everyone involved in hockey regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation.
In response to the Staals' decision not to wear Pride jerseys during warm-ups, Bill Torrey Jr., President of Hockey Operations for the Florida Panthers expressed disappointment but respect towards their stance.
"We are disappointed with Eric and Marc's decision but we respect it," said Torrey Jr. "We remain committed to creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome."
At this time there has been no further comment from either player regarding their choice not to participate in wearing Pride jerseys during warm-ups at this game.