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Flyers coach Tortorella defends Provorov’s Pride boycot

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By Dan Gelston in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Flyers coach John Tortorella defended Russian defenseman Ivan Provorov’s decision to cite religious beliefs as his reason to boycott the team’s pregame Pride celebration.

“Provy did nothing wrong,” Tortorella said Thursday. “Just because you don’t agree with his decision doesn’t mean he did anything wrong.”

Before Tuesday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, the 26-year-old Provorov sat out warmups, during which the Flyers wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow tape.

Provorov is Russian Orthodox, and said after the game that he respected “ everybody’s choices.”

“My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say,” he said, declining to answer follow-up questions.

Tortorella said had “very healthy” conversations with Provorov, general manager Chuck Fletcher and select players days ahead of the game. Provorov’s decision was not a surprise to the organization.

The first-year Flyers coach also said he never considered benching Provorov.

“Why would I bench him? Because of a decision he’s making on his beliefs and his religion?” Tortorella said. “It turned out to be a great night for Pride night.”

The Flyers, led by players James van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton, have been staunch supporters of the LGBTQ community and launched a program in support of LGBTQ youth in the greater Philadelphia area. The Flyers also hosted a pregame skate for local LGBTQ youth, and Laughton and van Riemsdyk met after the game with about 50 people from the community.

“I think ultimately I’d like to look at the positives from the night,” van Riemsdyk said Thursday. “We were able to host a few different groups and meet with them after the game. I think that’s where I’d like to keep the focus on, about the good things that happened. Ultimately, when you play a team sport, and there’s lots of different people from different backgrounds, there’s different causes that people support.”

Tortorella dismissed criticisms that Provorov’s actions “embarrassed the organization,” saying, “I don’t look it at like that all.”

Tortorella has coached five NHL teams and drew comparisons to his own controversy in 2016 in Columbus, when he threatened to bench any player that protested or took a knee during the national anthem. His comments came in the wake of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit or kneel during the anthem because he said the country “oppresses Black people and people of color.”

Tortorella has since said, and reiterated Thursday, he was wrong.

“I learned a lot through that experience,” Tortorella said. “My feelings toward any kind of protest to the flag during the anthem, it disgusts me, to this day. It disgusts me. It shouldn’t be done. Those are my feelings. I can’t push those feelings on to someone else. So I was wrong in saying that back then. I didn’t realize I was.

“But as I went through it all, who am I to push my feelings on to someone else. Same situation here.”

The Russian Orthodox Church, like other major Eastern Orthodox branches, doesn’t perform or recognize same-sex marriages. Its leader, Patriarch Kirill, has been supportive of moves by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government to implement anti-LGBTQ legislation.

The NHL also champions the You Can Play Project, which aims to ensure equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. The NHL has never had an openly gay active player. You Can Play co-founder Brian Kitts said in a statement that “religion and support for fans and teammates aren’t mutually exclusive.”

The NHL said that clubs “decide whom to celebrate, when and how” and that players “are free to decide which initiatives to support, and we continue to encourage their voices and perspectives on social and cultural issues.”

Tortorella said Provorov knew “he was going to have some blow back.”

“Provy’s not out there banging a drum against Pride night,” he said. “He felt strongly with his beliefs and he stayed with it.”

The Flyers have only 19 wins but have won four of five headed into Thursday’s game against Chicago and are 8-2 since an overtime win Dec. 29 at San Jose.

Tortorella insisted the lingering affects of Pride night would not splinter the locker room.

“Not for a second,” Tortorella said. “The meeting at the end of the game, the 15, 20 minutes we spent together was very healthy. Really good process in a very important situation. To me, it bonds the team going through something like that. I’m not concerned about speculation of a team splitting up. Not a chance.”

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AP NHL: www.apnews.com/hub/NHL and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Alberta

Join us for our 2023 Induction Ceremony

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Our 2023 Induction Ceremony will be on Friday, May 26th at the Red Deer Polytechnic Cenovus Centre. Cocktails and appetizers will begin at 5:30 pm, with the ceremony starting at 6:30 pm. The class of 2023 is as follows:
Athletes
Andrew Buckley-Football
Mike Johnson-Baseball
Helen Upperton-Bobsleigh
Builders
Cara Currie Hall-Multisport
Allan Ferchuk-Multisport
Greg Peterson-Football
Lyn Radford-Multisport

Teams
Old Grizzlys 1991-1994-Hockey

Awards
Wilf Brooks-Achievement –Hockey
Mark Stephen-Bell Memorial – Radio Broadcaster
Dr. Marcus Dunsworth-Pioneer- Multisport

Tickets are $80 or $50 for Honoured Members. You can purchase your tickets by clicking on the link below.

If you have any questions or need help purchasing tickets, please call 403-341-8614.

Induction Ceremony Tickets

Honoured Member Cody Snyder to be Inducted into the Bull Riding Hall of Fame

Honoured Member Cody Snyder will be the first Canadian inducted into the Bull Riding Hall of Fame.

Cody started riding junior steers in rodeo competitions when he was eight years old, and at twelve, he finally rode his first bull. By the age of fifteen, Cody was the Canadian Amateur Bull Riding Champion. Through 1980 and 1981, Cody gained the experience he needed to lead the Canadian Professional Rodeo Bull Riding standings in 1982. He was nineteen years old. He was inducted into our Hall in 2002 as a Rodeo Athlete.

Learn more about this story by following the link below.

Cody Snyder Article
This newsletter is sponsored by the RBC Foundation.

 Honoured Member Highlight – Allan Coulter

Volleyball Athlete – Inducted in 1997

Allan Coulter was a member of Canada’s National Men’s Volleyball Team from 1979 to 1992.  He competed in over 700 international volleyball matches and was selected as Team Captain from 1988 – 1992.  He competed in both the 1984 Summer Olympics and the 1992 Summer Olympics.  He was described as the ‘quickest hitting middle blocker’ Canada has ever had.  Allan continued to compete with the Calgary ‘Canuck Volleyball Stuff’ and became the spokesman, leader and role model for Canada’s National Team Program.

Honoured Member Profile

Provincial Sport Organization: Volleyball Alberta

Their primary goal is to promote and develop volleyball at all levels throughout Alberta.  Volleyball Alberta services the needs of its membership which consists of athletes, coaches, officials, and anyone interested in the sport of volleyball in the province.

Artifact in Focus!

F. E. Osborne Memorial Trophy: Tuxis Junior League Champions, Operated by Calgary Tuxis Coucil, Annual Competition. 1949-1957.

Honoured Member Dr. David Legg Teaches Adaptive Sports to Elementary Students

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame partnered with Calgary Adaptive Hub and Honoured Member Dr. David Legg to teach students about adaptive sports.

Professor at the Mount Royal University department of Health and Physical Education, David is an engaging lecturer and supports his students in finding practical experience working with individuals with disabilities in adapted sport. He has devoted his life as a volunteer in sport for athletes with a disability at the provincial, national and international level. He was inducted in 2022 as a Paralympic/Multisport Builder.

Honoured Member Profile
Thank You Northern Alberta Curling Championship Society!

We want to give a huge shout-out to the Northern Alberta Curling Championship Society for sponsoring a new interactive for the Hall. The new curling rink is a great addition to our space.

If you or your organization would like to sponsor a new interactive for the Hall, please email us at [email protected] or call 403-341-8614.

Donate Now

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame needs your support to continue the ongoing preservation of Alberta’s sports history and the development of museum exhibits. We are grateful and appreciative of the generosity of our supporters and friends. We would be happy to assist you in choosing how your personal legacy will be fulfilled and the many options available. Here is some information on donating shares to ASHFM and the benefits to you as a donor.

Donate
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Tom Brady retires at 45, insisting this time it’s ‘for good’

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady, who won a record seven Super Bowls for New England and Tampa, has announced his retirement.

Brady — the most successful quarterback in NFL history, and one of the greatest athletes in team sports — posted the announcement on social media Wednesday morning, a brief video lasting just under one minute.

“Good morning guys. I’ll get to the point right away,” Brady says as the message begins. “I’m retiring. For good.”

He briefly retired after the 2021 season but wound up coming back for one more year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He retires at age 45, the owner of numerous passing records in an unprecedented 23-year career.

A year ago when he retired, it was in the form of a long Instagram post. But about six weeks later, he decided to come back for one more run. The Buccaneers — with whom he won a Super Bowl two seasons ago — made the playoffs again this season, losing in their playoff opener. And at the time, it begged the question about whether Brady would play again.

Only a couple of weeks later, he has given the answer.

“I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning, I figured I’d just press record and let you guys know first,” Brady says in the video. “I won’t be long-winded. You only get one super emotional retirement essay and I used mine up last year.

“I really thank you guys so much, to every single one of you for supporting me. My family, my friends, teammates, my competitors. I could go on forever. There’s too many. Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you all.”

Brady is the NFL’s career leader in yards passing (89,214) and touchdowns (649). He is the only player to win more than five Super Bowls and has been MVP of the game five times.

Brady announced his retirement one day after attending the premiere of “80 for Brady” — which comes out Friday — in Los Angeles. The movie tells the story of four lifelong friends, played by Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field, who went to a Super Bowl to see Brady play.

He was asked Tuesday night whether he felt a connection working with women — the four stars range in age from 76 to 91 — who don’t want to retire.

“They’re working hard and they love it. So good for them,” Brady told The Associated Press. “You know, it’s just that’s what life is about. You got to, you know, wake up every day with a purpose. And when you find something you love to do, you know, it’s hard to stop. You really enjoy it. And there’s a lot of aspects that you do enjoy. So they still bring it at this age. It’s really unbelievable to watch them on set and how much energy they have. And I certainly was inspired by them and learned a lot of lessons on this whole experience.”

Famously underrated coming into the NFL — he was picked 199th in the 2000 draft by the Patriots, behind six other quarterbacks, three kickers and a punter — Brady certainly wasn’t expected to become synonymous with greatness. He played in one game as a rookie, completing one of three passes for six yards.

The next year, it all changed.

Brady took over as the Patriots’ starter, the team beat the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl that capped the 2001 season and he and New England coach Bill Belichick were well on their way to becoming the most successful coach-QB duo in football history.

More Super Bowl wins came after the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The Patriots returned to football’s mountaintop for a fourth time in Brady’s era a decade later to cap the 2014 season, the start of three more titles in a span of five years.

In 2020, he joined the Buccaneers and won his seventh Super Bowl. He spent his last three years with Tampa Bay, getting them to the playoffs in each of those seasons.

“I think I’ve been on the record dozens of times saying there’s no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady, and I still feel that way,” Belichick said in 2021 — shortly before Tampa Bay, with Brady, came to New England and beat the Patriots in a game dubbed “The Return.” “I was very lucky to have Tom as the quarterback, to coach him, and he was as good as any coach could ever ask for.”

Brady has won three NFL MVP awards, has been a first-team All-Pro three times and was selected to the Pro Bowl 15 times.

Brady and model Gisele Bündchen finalized their divorce this past fall, during the Bucs’ season. It ended a 13-year marriage between two superstars who respectively reached the pinnacles of football and fashion.

It was announced last year that when Brady retires from playing, he would join Fox Sports as a television analyst in a 10-year, $375 million deal.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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