Philadelphia Flyers’ coach John Tortorella has continued to defend defenseman Ivan Provorov, saying he did nothing wrong. Provorov refused to participate in a pre-game team skate on Tuesday night that entailed wearing LGBT pride jerseys and rainbow tape on their hockey sticks.
Provorov, who is a Russian national, told reporters he was refusing to participate in the team’s LGBT Pride event because of his religious views.
“I respect everyone. I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”
When a reporter asked Provorov about his religious beliefs, he replied, “That’s all I’m going to comment on that. If you have any hockey questions, I would answer those.”
When a reporter asked Provorov to say what religion he adheres to, he confirmed that he is a Russian Orthodox Christian.
The Russian Orthodox church is part of the broader Eastern Orthodox Christian community. While the various Eastern Orthodox churches appoint their own independent leaders, most consider homosexuality to be a sin and do not perform or recognize same-sex marriages, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-LGBT advocacy group.
When asked about it Thursday, Tortorella said “Why would I bench him? Because of a decision, he’s making on his beliefs and his religion?”
Tortorella went on to explain that he respected Provorov for his stance saying, “This has to do with his belief and his religion. That’s one thing I respect about Provy: he’s always true to himself.”
Tortorella made similar comments on Tuesday night when asked about Provorov’s decision to sit out from the LGBT-themed warm-up.