Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Michael Bunting (58) tries to...

Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Michael Bunting (58) tries to control the puck in front of Florida Panthers center Eric Staal (12) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 23, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. Credit: AP/Michael Laughlin

SUNRISE, Fla. — Brothers Eric and Marc Staal of the Florida Panthers declined to wear special Pride-themed warmup jerseys ahead of the team's 6-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

The jerseys were part of Florida's Pride night game in support of the area's LGBTQ community, and the brothers cited their religion as the reason for their decision.

“We carry no judgement on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey,” the Staal brothers said in a statement. “Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a Pride jersey it goes against our Christian beliefs.”

While the Staal brothers declined to participate, Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was one of the Panthers who went ahead with the Pride-themed jerseys.

The Chicago Blackhawks have decided against wearing special warmup jerseys to commemorate their Pride night on Sunday, citing an anti-gay Kremlin law that could imperil Russian athletes when they return home. The decision was made by the organization after ongoing conversations with its players.

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