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NHL commissioner considers scrapping 'pride' nights entirely as yet another player refuses to wear jersey

Image Courtesy @BuffaloSabres / NHL / Twitter

After another NHL player refused to wear a "pride"-themed jersey during warm-ups, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league will evaluate whether or not to continue hosting any "Pride Night" events in the future.

Moscow-born defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin became the latest player to decline wearing a rainbow-themed jersey when the Buffalo Sabres skated during warm-ups, as reported by CTV News.

Lyubushkin cited a Russian law against promoting "nontraditional sexual relations," the same reason the Chicago Blackhawks gave for not sporting the jerseys, as they have several Russian players.

The Russian joins two Canadian brothers, Eric and Marc Staal of the Florida Panthers, who refused to wear the unique jerseys just a week before.

In an interview with CTV News, the NHL's commissioner addressed the ongoing controversy.

"This is the first time we've experienced that, and I think it's something that we're going to have to evaluate in the off-season," Bettman said.

"This is one issue where players for a variety of reasons may not feel comfortable wearing the uniform as a form of endorsement," he added.

Bettman described the media coverage as a "distraction," reiterating that the players' personal choices need to be respected as well.

"I think that's become more of a distraction now, because the substance of what our teams and we have been doing and stand for is really being pushed to the side for what is a handful of players basically [having] made personal decisions, and you have to respect that as well," the commissioner remarked.

The list of teams and players opting out of the themed jerseys is ever growing; however, teams still celebrate a "Pride Night" in general despite not wearing the jerseys.

The Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders, and New York Rangers all opted out of wearing the themed uniforms for the 2022-2023 season, while players Ivan Provorov, James Reimer, and the aforementioned Staal brothers along with Lyubushkin have all declined individually.

Bettman was initially in Canada's capital to discuss the potential sale of the Ottawa Senators hockey team.

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