NHL: Unlike other Russians, Nikita Zadorov of the Flames wore the Pride jersey

NHL: Unlike other Russians, Nikita Zadorov of the Flames wore the pride jersey.


Unlike some of his compatriots, Russian Nikita Zadorov donned the specially designed Flames rainbow logo jersey for “Pride Night” on Tuesday during the warm-up period against the Kings from Los Angeles. And not only did he wear it, but the defender took the opportunity to greet supporters and distribute sticks.

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The day before, Ilya Lyubushkin, a Sabers defenseman from Moscow, had refused to wear the jersey created especially for the occasion before a game against the Canadiens. He skipped the warm-up period, citing a Kremlin anti-gay law that made him fear for his safety and that of his family members living in Russia.

That didn't seem to scare Zadorov, the same giant-sized fullback who posted the 'no war' message on his social media in the wake of the first Russian attacks in Ukraine last year. This publication is still prominently visible on the defender's Instagram account.

A former member of the Red Army

< p>Zadorov, also a native Muscovite, played for the junior Red Army team before continuing his junior internship in North America with the London Knights in 2012.

But the former Sabres, Blackhawks and Avalanche seems to be returning to his native country on time, as evidenced by a photo published less than two years ago and which shows him at Gazprom Arena, the Zenith soccer stadium in St. Petersburg.

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A post shared by Nikita Zadorov (@zadorov_16)

Zadorov did not discuss his reasons for donning the jersey, which has since been auctioned. But in the Flames locker room, it seemed clear from the start of the week that all players were going to put it on.

“Everyone is on the same page in our locker room,” defenseman MacKenzie Weegar told reporters. Everyone is more than comfortable wearing this sweater. Many of us talked about it, and no one disagreed.

“Everyone is welcome in this locker room and in this arena, and we are all very happy to put it on,” he added.

The defender Rasmus Andersson posted a photo of himself in the uniform on Twitter, saying he was “proud to wear this beautiful sweater”.

If that's not the case in Calgary, the National League initiative has sparked several controversies elsewhere in the circuit this season. Ivan Provorov, a Russian defenseman for the Flyers, also refused to wear the Pride jersey, citing religious reasons. He was imitated by James Reimer of the Sharks as well as Eric and Marc Staal of the Panthers.

In Chicago too

Teams have simply chosen not to wear the uniform designed especially for this type of event, including the Rangers, the Wild and the Blackhawks. In Chicago, the reason given was that the club's Russian players could face repercussions in their homeland, due to the law cited by Lyubushkin. New York and Minnesota also have athletes from Russia in their ranks.

This law prohibits the promotion of anything considered “non-traditional sexual relations”. Put in place in 2013, it was made even stricter by the Kremlin last year.

The bans concern “the media, the internet, literature and cinema” or even publicity.

Violations will be punished with heavy fines and foreigners who violate this law may be expelled.

Malkin wore it

In addition to Zadorov, Evgeni Malkin chose to wear the Pride jersey at the party organized by the Penguins last December.

In Montreal, the initiative will have place on April 6, as part of a game against the Capitals.

Denis Gurianov, the only Russian player of the Canadian, could he raise religious reasons or fears of reprisals to avoid this evening? The subject has not yet been brought up in the team's entourage, David Savard let it be known at the start of the week.