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Pride Night

Flames Players Unified With Sense of Pride

Every member of the Calgary Flames wore a Pride jersey for warmup on Tuesday as the team prepped to play for their NHL playoff lives against the Los Angeles Kings



The Calgary Flames showed their Pride. 

Every member, of every religious belief. 

Alberta may not be known as a hotbed for inclusivity or tolerance, but the message from the players who call Calgary home for at least eight months of the year was clear. 

Everyone is welcome. 

That's it. A simple message spoken through both words and actions. The action was pulling on a special warm-up jersey that showcased the talent of a local LGBTQIA+ artist. The rainbow-rimmed Flaming C crest — the first Pride warmup jersey for the Flames franchise — features some of the flora and fauna found around the region. An artistic take that looked great as the Flames loosened up on the ice before their game against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. 

The words matched, too. 

“Everybody’s on board in this room,” Calgary Flames defenceman MacKenzie Weegar told reporters on Tuesday morning. “Everybody’s more than comfortable wearing the jersey. A lot of us spoke about it, and not one guy had a disagreement. 

"Everybody’s welcome in this dressing room and in this arena, and we know we’re really happy to be wearing this jersey.”

Some Flames players have shared personal stories of family members who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Defenceman Rasmus Andersson has been a vocal advocate of inclusivity, and teammate Blake Coleman also said choosing to wear the jersey was an easy choice. Like Andersson, members of his family are among those who have been marginalized. 

“It hits home for me, so it’s kind of a no-brainer for me, Coleman said. "But at the end of the day, it’s more about just everybody is welcome in this locker room, and we’re proud to have open arms for people."

Some players, like the Staal brothers and James Reimer, have recently made statements about choosing not to wear their teams' Pride jerseys. Ivan Provorov, whose faith is Russian Orthodox, was the first to make waves by dissenting earlier this season. The Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers all cancelled their jersey commitments to avoid potential controversy with Russians on the rosters. 

Nikita Zadorov joined Evgeni Malkin on Tuesday as Russians who pulled on Pride sweaters. Nazem Kadri, the first Muslim to win the Stanley Cup, was pulled into Reimer's character defence last week, but he, too, was happy to wear the warmup jersey when the Calgary Flames took the ice. The special jerseys were signed by the players and will be auctioned to support the CSEC Inclusion Program.

Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter suggested on Monday the team would be unified in wearing them. 

"I think people need to be able to make their own decisions in life, no matter what it is. Whether it's in the room, what you're wearing, what you do on a day-to-day basis. That's the beauty of America and Canada and these countries where you can make your own decisions," said Coleman, expressing his empathy for those who made difficult decisions knowing they'd be skewered for them before doubling down on his choice to wear one. "For me it's an easy one … it's not something I have to think too much about because it's real close to home. 

“I’m proud to wear them, and proud to support causes like that. At the end of the day, it’s more about showing that we’re inclusive in our locker room."

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