Wrong to push players into being activists, says Subban
some teams and a handful of players have objected to participating for reasons
TORONTO (Reuters) - All National Hockey League players do no need to be activists and do not have to wear a rainbow jersey or hat to support the LGBTQ+ community," former Norris trophy-winning defenseman PK Subban said on Friday.
NHL Pride Night events have been under an unwelcome spotlight in recent months as some teams and a handful of players have objected to participating for reasons that include religious beliefs.
One of the NHL's few Black players, the 33-year-old Subban was an activist and philanthropist who donated millions to charitable efforts throughout a 13-year career with the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils.
But the All-Star defenseman made it clear that while he is comfortable speaking out, not everyone needs to stand on a soapbox to validate their support of a cause.
"We cannot push everyone to be an activist, we need to be very careful," Canadian Subban told Reuters. "I feel people pick and choose what they want to talk about and I don't like it when we put the onus on athletes to be activists.
"They don't need to be activists.
"I'm not saying it is right or wrong to wear the (Pride)jersey, we have just got to be very careful how we push players to do things.
"You can support the LGBTQ community without having to wear a hat, a t-shirt or a jersey."
The Kraft Hockeyville program, for which Subban is an ambassador, promotes itself as an opportunity for communities to "make the game more accessible and inclusive for all", with the winner receiving $250,000 in arena upgrades and hosting an NHL pre-season game.
This year's winner chosen from four finalists will be announced on Saturday in between periods of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.
Arenas, particularly in small town Canada, are community gathering places.
Subban rejected any suggestion that minorities and marginalised children might feel unwelcome in these buildings after watching their favourite NHL team or player choose not to support some Pride Night initiatives.