San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer became the latest NHLer to refuse to don a Pride Night jersey.
The 35-year-old netminder released a statement in conjunction with the Sharks, stating he would not be wearing the jersey on Saturday for religious reasons.
“Under the umbrella of the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone initiative, the San Jose Sharks have chosen to wear jerseys in support of the LGBTQIA+ community tonight," Reimer said.
“For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian – not just in title, but in how I choose to live my life daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and follow Him.
“I have no hate in my heart for anyone, and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness. 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.
“I strongly believe that every person has value and worth, and the LGBTQIA+ community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey.”
Reimer, who has also played for the Maple Leafs, Panthers and Hurricanes over his career, is the latest in a growing list of players and teams that have opted not to wear the special uniforms.
Mere weeks ago, the Minnesota Wild decided at the last minute to reverse course on wearing their Pride jerseys in a widely panned move. The Wild’s case came in the wake of others — most notably Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov and the New York Rangers — similarly deciding to forgo the Pride Night tradition.
Speaking with the media after his statement’s release, Reimer expanded further on his decision.
“It’s just something I saw coming up last year,” he said. “There's a bunch of teams starting to wear them and I just came to the conviction through my faith that it went against what I believe the Bible says...
“I get what the message is. I think people are trying to show support to the community and I’m sure people in the community feel marginalized,” Reimer added after he was probed on what he felt the Pride jersey meant. “So it’s people trying to come along (with) them in a public way and support them.
“The way I personally interpret the Bible is you love them, but you can’t support the activity or lifestyle.”
The Sharks, for their part, were firm in their stance, refusing to back down from showing support despite Reimer’s position.
Among other initiatives, the Sharks shared they would use their platform on Twitter during Saturday's game to “offer information and facts about LGBTQIA+ topics” instead of traditional gameday coverage.
“Our hope is that this content will serve as a reminder that there are issues more important than goals, highlights, and wins,” the team said. “Hockey is not for everyone until everyone is comfortable playing, working, or being a fan of this incredible game.”