E.J. Hradek discussing Ivan Provorov on NHL Now on Jan. 18, 2023.

On Tuesday, Philadelphia Flyers’ defenseman Ivan Provorov made quite a few headlines by boycotting the team’s Pride Night pregame warmups. That’s led to a lot of discussion and debate. One of the more forceful takes on it came from NHL Network’s E.J. Hradek Wednesday on NHL Now, where Hradek suggested Provorov should return to Russia and even seemingly suggested he should potentially get involved in that country’s war with Ukraine. Amongst Hradek’s comments were lines like “If it bothers you that much, there’s always a chance to leave” and ““I understand there’s a conflict of sorts going on over there, maybe get involved.” Here’s video of this that @tschultz_5 sent to Outkick’s Clay Travis:

This has since been written up by sites from Outkick to Mediaite. Here’s a transcription of Hradek’s remarks:

“Ivan Provorov can get on a plane any day he wants and go back to a place where he feels more comfortable, take less money, and get on with his life that way, if it’s that problematic for him. And he’s been in North America for a long time. He played in the Western Hockey League, he’s now been in Philadelphia for many years. If this is that much of a problem for him to maybe assimilate into his group of teammates, and in the community, and here in this country, that’s okay, you can feel any way you want. But there’s always a chance to leave, go back where you feel more comfortable. I understand there’s a conflict of sorts going on over there, maybe get involved.”

The turn into the Russia-Ukraine war in the last sentence there is really quite something. And there’s some further context given the Flyers’ preexisting history there; Philadelphia goaltending prospect Ivan Fedotov was detained for alleged draft-dodging last summer and sent to a military base. The discussion of Russian players in the NHL around that country’s invasion of Ukraine is a complicated one, especially with the IIHF ban on Russia and Belarus still in effect (although that may be revised shortly). But telling an athlete to “maybe get involved” in an armed conflict over their lack of participation in/comments on a Pride Night event is still quite a take.

Hradek has been working for NHL.com and NHL Network since 2011. Before that, he spent 13 years as a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and also appeared on ESPN’s various linear platforms. As of 1:50 p.m. Eastern Thursday, his Twitter feed had not yet featured a comment on his Wednesday remarks on Provorov.

[@tschultz_5 on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.