Former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie under fire for refusal to wear Pride jersey
Remember former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer? The current San Jose Sharks goalie, best remembered for allowing the disastrous 2013 game seven collapse versus the Boston Bruins, is once again under fire a decade later for refusing to wear a Pride jersey during a Saturday pre-game skate.
Love wins & so does this jersey😍 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 19, 2023
Tonight's jersey auction benefitting @acsteens is now live! Bid for your very own Sharks Pride warmup jersey!
🔗: https://t.co/qJwFgdaJ0h pic.twitter.com/KiAms1OJjS
The 35-year-old Reimer, who has played 13 seasons in the NHL, cited his Christian faith as the reason he was unable to wear the jersey in a statement issued through official team channels.
"Under the umbrella of the NHL's Hockey is for Everyone initiative, the San Jose Sharks have chosen to wear jerseys in support of the LGBTQIA+ community tonight," Reimer wrote in a statement shared through the team's social media.
"For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian – not just in title, but in how I choose to live my life daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and follow Him."
A statement from Goaltender, James Reimer: pic.twitter.com/GwhWxhbmb4— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 18, 2023
"I have no hate in my heart for anyone, and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness. In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life," Reimer continued.
"I strongly believe that every person has value and worth, and the LGBTGIA+ community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey."
That explanation isn't sitting right with everyone, and there has been a flood of comments on social media criticizing the goaltender for his interpretation of his faith.
“I have no hate in my life.” But a rainbow jersey is where he draws the line 😂😂— bob saccamano (@bobsaccamano13) March 18, 2023
Many are pointing out the hypocrisy of refusing to wear a Pride jersey when Reimer has indeed donned camouflage jerseys for past military appreciation nights.
Don't think Jesus was a huge fan of war, so looking forward to these guys releasing statements on why they won't participate in Military Appreciation Night— plantwrench (@wrenchplant) March 18, 2023
Others just took shots at how, despite Reimer's piety, he sits as a backup goaltender with a dismal save percentage.
Whoever did this I love you pic.twitter.com/3OlhEeu1es— cat! | eliminated from playoff contention (@kit_cat_bars) March 18, 2023
"I look forward to NHL players releasing statements on not wanting to wear camo jerseys for military appreciation night bc they don't support colonization or war crimes," reads one comment on Twitter.
Somehow, Reimer managed to offend one more group when trying to explain his stance on the Pride Night issue.
In a botched attempt to put his stance into perspective, Reimer remarked on former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Nazem Kadri's Muslim faith.
"I don't know exactly the extent of his faith, his Muslim faith. But he's a Muslim. I think you could talk to him and ask him if I treated him any different," said Reimer.
he said what now? https://t.co/SxfHpOr4ay pic.twitter.com/seOKZE7LQ7— Sam (@samanthacp_) March 19, 2023
Reimer continued, "And yet, people would understand if I wouldn't be able to wear a Muslim jersey in warm-ups, promoting the Muslim faith, being a Christian and a follower in Christ. He himself would fully understand that."
Countering that argument, Kadri wore the Toronto S. Pats jersey on many occasions despite its Christian symbolism, which some contest voids Reimer's argument.
Seems to me like Kadri had no problem wearing a jersey that had overtly christian symbology on it. Runs completely counter to Reimer’s position. pic.twitter.com/lA8TW2ZtMc— gin & regret (@kenreh) March 19, 2023
Kadri has yet to comment on Reimer's statements.
Reimer's comments have been condemned by another name from Leafs' history in former GM Brian Burke, who is currently the President of Hockey Operations for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Via @NBCSSharks, Brian Burke's thoughts on the Sharks' Pride Night Saturday: pic.twitter.com/e6PLIzvjwa— Seth Rorabaugh (@SethRorabaugh) March 19, 2023
Burke's late son Brendan was an advocate for tolerance and an outspoken critic of homophobia in the league, and the hockey executive has continued this role since his son’s passing, stressing that pride jerseys are not about endorsing values as much as supporting inclusion.
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