While James Reimer refusing to wear a Pride jersey last weekend sparked plenty of outrage, it wasn’t the only controversial situation the San Jose Sharks goaltender found himself in that day.
Prior to the Mar. 18 game versus the New York Islanders, Reimer released a statement explaining why he wouldn’t be joining his teammates in wearing a Pride jersey during warm-ups. While saying he had no hate in his heart for anyone, he cited his Christian faith as to why he would not participate.
Reimer then spoke with the media, re-stating his Christian values. But he put himself into even more hot water when he brought, unprompted, ex-teammate Nazem Kadri into the conversation.
“In Toronto, Nazem Kadri as a teammate, loved him to death. I don’t know exactly the extent of his faith, his Muslim faith. But he’s a Muslim,” Reimer said of his ex-Toronto Maple Leafs teammate. “I think you could talk to him and ask him if I treated him any different. I love him. I competed with him on the ice, we joked around, we did life together.”
The San Jose Sharks netminder was just trying to explain how, even with his Pride Night stance, he would embrace a teammate of another stripe, be it gay or Muslim.
“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,” Reimer continued. “He himself would fully understand that.”
Many felt that Reimer’s comments were insensitive, and questioned why he would even bring Kadri into the divisive situation.
Meanwhile, Reimer, sensing his thin excuse might not hold up for long, places Nazem Kadri and the Muslim faith in the line of fire. https://t.co/z1JyasJx9g
— Alheli Picazo (@a_picazo) March 19, 2023
It forced Kadri into answering questions about something that had nothing do with him.
When asked about it on Thursday, the now-Calgary Flames forward couldn’t hide the fact that he was a bit surprised by his involvement.
“James is a great guy,” Kadri began. “I’m not sure [how] I got tied into it, really. At the end of the day, his opinions are his opinions, and he’s got that prerogative to have this opinions. For us, I think, it’s most important whether it’s an ethnicity or a community, anybody is welcomed in our rink. That’s where we stand.”
Kadri did add that he wouldn’t be offended if the San Jose Sharks goaltender refused to wear a Muslim jersey should such a night take place.
“I would not feel disrespected at all,” Kadri said. “I, obviously, probably want to wear the jersey and I wouldn’t have that expectation for anybody else to wear it. Wouldn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. At the end of the day, it’s their choice [to] wear it or not. I don’t think it would alter my opinion that much.”
At the time of Reimer’s decision to skip warm-ups on Pride Night, he was just the second NHL’er to do so, after Russian Ivan Provorov, and the first Canadian-born. That has since changed, however, as both Marc and Eric Staal of the Florida Panthers declined to wear Pride jerseys on Thursday night versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild, and Chicago Blackhawks have also reneged on commitments to wear Pride jerseys during their Pride Nights.
But Kadri and the Flames look like full speed ahead with their Mar. 28 Pride Night, though the team hadn’t previously announced Pride jerseys.
“Yeah, I think we’re going to continue with it,” Kadri said. “We want to welcome everybody into the Saddledome. We want to continue to grow this game and get as many people watching hockey as we possibly can.”
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