Ilya Kovalchuk On Russia's Anti-Gay Laws: "I Agree, Of Course"

Here's the former NHLer to TSN, as relayed by SI:

“I agree, of course,” said Ilya Kovalchuk. “I’m Russian and we all have to respect that. It’s personal and, like I said, it’s a free world, but that’s our line. That’s our country, so everybody has to respect that.”

Kovalchuk follows in the footsteps of Pavel Datsyuk in toeing the party line on the controversial laws ahead of the Sochi Olympics. Perhaps we should stop expecting Russian stars to take some big stand against the establishment, and not just because of national pride; large majorities of Russians oppose gay marriage and pride parades, and just 16 percent of Russians say society ought to accept homosexuality. Not that Russian players should stop being asked, but a no-comment is about the least inflammatory that can be hoped for.

On the live-and-let live side of the world, Canada and U.S. Olympic orientation camps are open, and the condemnation of Russia's laws—at least by those asked—was universal.

Sidney Crosby:

"For me growing up in Canada, my view has always been that way," Crosby said during a news conference Sunday to kick off Canada's Olympic camp. "I think that everyone has an equal right to play and I think we've been supportive of that. With the Olympics and the controversy around that I think those decisions and those laws aren't necessarily something that I agree with personally ... their laws and their views."

Braden Holtby:

“It’s hard to go into a country that supports something like that...I don’t think [a boycott] would do any good. I think it would cause more problems than it would solve. But I think it’s an opportunity for athletes to get together and support a cause that I think a lot of us really have a passion for. And I think we can do lot of good for it.”

Dan Boyle:

"On Russia’s stance, I don’t agree with it. I just don’t agree. I think, gay or not, that shouldn’t change anything. Not a big fan of that."

David Backes:

“As an American who believes in the freedoms that we have and the way we run our society and culture, everyone has their right to participate in sports and live their lifestyle the way that they want. I’m supportive of anyone.

“I don’t care if you’re black, white, green, purple, gold, as long as you’re committed to the team aspect and the way that we’re playing you’re always welcome on my team. We don’t have to agree with everything they do and they don’t have to agree with everything we do. We’ve got our views and we’ll see how that all pans out.”