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NHL’s ongoing Pride Night jersey drama just got even dumber

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reported they were trying to protect their Russian-born players. Vladimir Putin has passed a string of laws that restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ people, including a rule that makes it “illegal to spread ‘propaganda’ about ‘nontraditional sexual relations,'” according to the New York Times.The Blackhawks and Wild were both concerned that players who wear Pride jerseys could be prosecuted for spreading “gay propaganda,” The Athletic reported at the time.

Then on Monday, the Buffalo Sabres allowed Russian defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin to skip their Pride warmup skate, citing safety concerns.

About five percent of the NHL is Russian. But the league office isn’t backing up these dubious tales. When asked about the issue, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the NHL isn’t aware of any Russian players being in danger for supporting Pride. “We take all risks seriously, and this one is no different,” he wrote in an email to The Athletic. “Having said that, we have no information that would suggest there is any material threat that would exist [in Russia or otherwise] related to a Russian player participating in a club’s Pride activities.”So, there you have it, folks: the league’s second-in-command disproved that bogus Putin excuse in just two sentences.

The openly gay athlete said players who refuse to wear Pride jerseys are a “disappointment” and the NHL has taken “a step back for inclusion.”The notion that Putin’s anti-gay laws, passed more than 5,500 miles away, ever factored into NHL teams’ decisions on how to celebrate Pride nights was always a stretch.

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