April 4, 2023, 6:51 PM
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov did not wear a Pride decal on his mask during warmup prior to Tuesday’s game against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.
Samsonov is a native of Magnitogorsk, Russia.
The Leafs sported the decals but did not wear Pride night-themed jerseys.
The organization has held Pride nights in support of the LGBTQ+ community since 2017 but has never had special warmup jerseys.
Toronto players and head coach Sheldon Keefe donned rainbow-themed T-shirts during a Tuesday morning media availability
An anti-gay Kremlin law in Russia has been cited as a possible reason for Russian players to consider not wearing anything supporting Pride nights, though NHL debut commissioner Bill Daly told The Athletic recently that the league was unaware of any credible threat to its Russian player base stemming from the use of a Pride jersey.
The degree to which the law presents a substantial risk to Russians has also been disputed. Under the law, individuals can be fined up to 400,000 rubles ($6,370) for “LGBT propaganda” and up to 200,000 rubles ($3,185) for “demonstrations of LGBT and information that encourages a change of gender among teenagers.”These fines rise to up to 5 million rubles ($80,000) and 4 million rubles ($64,000) respectively for legal entities.
Russian players who did not wear Pride night jerseys earlier this season include Ilya Lyubushkin of the Buffalo Sabres, Andrei Kuzmenko of the Vancouver Canucks and Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Non-Russian NHLers also have declined to wear Pride jerseys, including brothers Eric and Marc Staal of the Florida Panthers and James Reimer of the San Jose Sharks, citing religious beliefs.
Several teams, like the Maple Leafs, also have not had any of their players wear Pride jerseys
— With files from CP.