Citing his Christian faith, San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer said he chose not to wear a pregame warmup jersey in support of the LGBTQIA+ community on Saturday, as part of the team's weeklong "Pride Night" festivities.
"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," Reimer said in a statement prior to Saturday's 4-1 home loss to the New York Islanders.
"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.
"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.
"I strongly believe that every person has value and worth, and the LGBTQIA+ community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey."
Sharks players wore the Pride-themed jerseys designed by San Jose artist Houyee Chow, who describes herself on her Instagram account as a queer artist and educator.
The jersey has a Pride crest and a "Love Wins" patch on them and San Jose said it is "extremely proud to host" the "Pride Night" festivities in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, adding that its dedicated to "an inclusive, welcoming, and safe environment for all guests."
"As we promote these standards, we also acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic," the Sharks said in a statement prior to the game.
"As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship."
Reimer did not play in the Sharks' loss.
'People in high places'
The 35-year-old Reimer, who is in his second season with San Jose and will be a free agent after the season, was asked by a reporter prior to the game if he is concerned that his social stance may prevent another team from signing him in the offseason.
"I'd be lying if I said that wasn't something that crossed my mind," Reimer said. "This is not a stance that I was looking to make.
"I saw this happening and I started conversations almost a year ago with people in high places, not because I'm ashamed of my faith but because of certain consequences that they could have for me or other people that feel this way.
"Those conversations happened and here I am standing up for what I believe in. I'm sure there's people in management or ownership that won't look favorably on this.
"At the same time, I hope that there's another handful of people in management or ownership that respect me for standing up for what I believe in and that's a big part of who I am."
After the game, the team thanked fans for the celebration.
"We know that one organization can't make all the changes we seek to make hockey (and the world) more welcoming to all, but it's a start. With all of you, we can make an impact."
Reimer has played in 35 games this season, starting 34 of them. He is 10-17-7 with a 3.26 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.