Reimer boycotts the Sharks’ warm-up skate before the Pride night game

Greg Wyshynski ESPN18:04 ET3 minute read

San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer will boycott the team’s warm-up skate before their home game against the New York Islanders on Saturday because his teammates will wear jerseys that support the LGBTQIA+ community.

As part of a week-long series of events that the team says will “continue a long-standing Allies engagement with the LGBTQIA+ community,” San Jose players will wear special jerseys for Sharks Pride Night designed by Houyee Chow, a queer artist from San, designed by José. Featuring a Pride crest and “Love Wins” patch, the shirts will be auctioned off for charity after the game to raise funds for youth counseling services.

Reimer said the Pride Night jerseys go against his Christian beliefs. According to coach David Quinn, he will be available for the game.

“For all of my 13 years in the NHL, I have been a Christian not just in title but in the way I live my day to day life. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for my sins, and in response asks me to love and follow everyone. I have no hatred in my heart for anyone and I have always endeavored to treat everyone I meet with respect and kindness,” Reimer said in a statement.

“In this particular case, I choose not to support something that contradicts my personal beliefs, which are based on the Bible, the supreme authority in my life. I firmly believe that every human being has worth and worth, and the LGBTQIA+ community likes that everyone else should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey.”

Reimer, who is in his second year in San Jose, began discussions with the team about Pride Night almost a year ago. The team has publicly supported their decision not to participate in warm-up exercises.

“We recognize and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how they express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or issue,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will remain unwavering in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to actively participate in coalitions.”

Reimer’s decision comes after months of NHL teams and players choosing not to honor Pride Night during this season’s warm-up.

In January, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov didn’t compete in pregame skating because he refused to wear the team’s LGBTQ+ Pride Night pre-match jersey “to stay true to myself and my religion,” which he calls Russian -designated orthodox.

The Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers both said they would wear special jerseys to their Pride Nights — the Wild announced a charity auction for them, the Rangers sent an announcement to season ticket holders — only to opt out of having them wear games.

While some NHL teams wear jerseys for Pride Night, many use rainbow-colored Pride tape on sticks instead. Reimer believes there is a difference between using the tape and wearing a leotard.

“Some guys don’t do the tape and some guys do. (The tape) isn’t that mandatory or obtrusive. So when it comes to kits, it’s definitely more of a decision and that’s what it comes down to if you don’t wear the kit,” Reimer said after practice. “When I saw other teams start wearing kits, I knew I felt that this would interfere with my Christian faith.”

Reimer is an unrestricted free agent this summer and acknowledged his decision could affect his future in the market.

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t honestly cross my mind,” Reimer said. “I’m sure there are people in management or ownership who don’t see it positively. At the same time, I hope there’s another handful of people in management or ownership who respect me for standing up for what I believe in, and that’s a big part of who I am.”

Reimer has appeared in 35 games for the Sharks and has a 10-17-7 record with a .895 save percentage and a 3.26 clean sheet average. He previously played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes.


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