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Pavel Datsyuk Creates Controversy with Vague Comment on Russia's Anti-Gay Environment


Not exactly something I was hoping to have to cover, but something that Wings fans knew was a distinct possibility. Pavel Datsyuk, while in Russia at a press conference after accepting the Kharlamov Trophy for the best Russian player in the NHL, was asked about the situation involving the Yelena Isinbaeva controversy, gave a short, vague answer.

(From the Google Translation of the original article on

(About words Isinbayeva, upheld the ban promotion of homosexuality)

My position - I am Orthodox. I think that says it all.

The Score picked up the tidbit today and ran with it. From there, Twitter and the rest of the hockey media jumped to their reactions, including Travis Hughes at SBN.

The part that got everybody riled up came from a Huffington Post article which quotes the head of the Russian Orthodox Church saying that legalizing same-sex marriage would mean the country embarking on a path of "self-destruction".

It's a very clear progression here: Pavel Datsyuk stands with his faith in the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church stands in opposition to same-sex marriage. While Datsyuk did leave it vague, the fact he said anything at all opens things up to this kind of interpretation. In fact, it just about gives permission for it without him being more clear on the topic.

Unfortunately, at this point being more clear on the topic could lead him to more trouble still. If there is any break with the stance of the church (as laid out by its leader), then Datsyuk saying so could very easily find him in opposition to the very laws which ignited this controversy in the first place.  Of course, this even assumes that he would want to do that in the first place, which we don't know.

Personally? I'm disappointed to learn about this. I'm not angry and I don't suddenly dislike Datsyuk, nor do I agree with any charge that any kind of moral code requires me to answer a judgment with a judgment. I wish I knew that Datsyuk didn't agree with the head of his church when it comes to gay rights. I don't wish he weren't religious nor do I think that his being religious or even being a member of a church which promotes an agenda with which I disagree makes him a bad person.

I'm not here to defend Datsyuk nor am I here to condemn him. Based on what I've learned about Datsyuk in the last 12 years, I'm not going to label him as a hateful person. I'm also not going to go through any mental gymnastics to eliminate the thought from my head that it's possible.  His entitlement to an opinion remains unchanged, as is anybody else's entitlement to any range of assumptions.

When he plays, I'll be rooting for Pavel Datsyuk the hockey player; I'll admire Pavel Datsyuk the father and Pavel Datsyuk the youth hockey coach/advocate; I'll laugh at Pavel Datsyuk the thoughtful and funny interview subject, and I'll hope he either already is or someday comes around to being Pavel Datsyuk the supporter of gay rights.

Mostly, I'm just going to kind of wish I never had to deal with this in the first place.