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Kurtis Gabriel on Real Reason Why He Retired, Provorov, Alphabet Sports Collective



Credit: AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

It was time for Kurtis Gabriel to retire from hockey. But it doesn’t mean he’s getting out of hockey.

In September, Gabriel announced his surprise retirement from the sport. Just 29, the popular winger had patrolled the ice for the San Jose Sharks during the 2020-21 season. Last year, he was part of both the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs organizations.

In his playing days, Gabriel was known primarily for his high-energy physicality, willingness to drop the gloves, and embrace of social issues. In Feb. 2019, Gabriel became the first player to use Pride Tape in an actual NHL game, and not just in warm-ups.

Gabriel is getting off the ice, but he’s still a leader off it.

Gabriel is part of the just-launched Alphabet Sports Collective, a “queer-led non-profit organization focused on creating a safer environment for people of all sexual identities and all expressions of gender in hockey.”

Alphabet Sports Collective arrives at time when hockey is, once again, perhaps feeling like it’s not for everyone.

For years, NHL teams had been hosting Pride Nights and wearing Pride jerseys during warm-ups with zero significant issue. But in January, Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers declined to wear a Pride jersey, citing his Russian Orthodox religious beliefs. Then, the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild reneged on their commitments to wear Pride jerseys during their Pride nights.

The Wild claimed that they were protecting their Russian players from reprisals from new anti-gay Russian laws.

San Jose Hockey Now caught up with Gabriel two days ago, on the eve of the San Jose Sharks’ own Pride Night. The Sharks have stated that they will wear Pride jerseys, but it’s not clear if every player will wear them.

(SJHN Note: This interview was conducted and story written before the San Jose Sharks’ James Reimer declined to wear a Pride jersey)

Gabriel revealed the real reason why he retired so early, the Alphabet Sports Collective’s larger goals, his thoughts on the pushback on wearing Pride jerseys, his personal experiences with Provorov, and his memories of his time with the Sharks.

Read the Full Article at NBC Sports Bay Area

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