SUNRISE — Florida Panthers veterans Eric and Marc Staal did not come out for warmups with their team on Thursday night in protest of the team’s Pride Night.
The two brothers cited religious differences in making their decision.
Both were in the lineup Thursday, however, as the Panthers lost 6-2 to the Maple Leafs.
The Panthers said any player who did not choose to wear the jersey had that right but would not warmup before the game.
Every other member of the team, including starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, took part.
The brothers put out a statement before the game with Eric Staal addressing the media — but not saying much.
“I respectfully would just like to stick with the statement that we made and released,’’ Eric Staal said. “That’s how we felt in this situation and that is the decision that we made. I would like to leave it at that. I want to try my best to move forward.”
Last week, former Florida goalie James Reimer declined to wear the San Jose Pride jersey saying it went against his religious beliefs.
“As an organization, we have decided — and rightfully so — to move forward with it and support it and celebrate it,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said of wearing special warmup jerseys for Pride Night.
“Teams around the league and players around the league, they’ve got the right to their opinion, and we’ve got the right to ours. But I’ve seen the sweaters. They’re great looking, and it should be a great night tonight.”
Neither Eric nor Marc Staal have a jersey up on the auction site.
In a joint statement, the Staal brothers said they “carry no judgement” on “how people live their lives.”
From the statement: “After many thoughts, prayers and discussions we have chosen not to wear a pride jersey tonight.
“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.
“Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a pride jersey it goes against our Christian beliefs.
“We hope you can respect this statement, we will not be speaking any further on this matter and would like to continue to focus on the game and helping the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup.
- Eric and Marc Staal
PANTHERS ON DECK
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Season Series (Toronto leads 1-0): Maple Leafs 5, Panthers 4 OT (Jan. 17)
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time regular season series: Toronto leads 46-35-7, 7 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: New York Rangers at Florida, Saturday, 5 p.m.