The maker of Pride Tape is “extremely disappointed” with the NHL’s decision to ban players from using rainbow-colored tape this season in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Pride Tape said in a statement: “The league has used language in recent days to ban this tape from being near NHL hockey. We hope the league and teams can recommit themselves to this important symbol in the fight against homophobia.” .
The NHL announced in June that teams would no longer be allowed to wear “special” jerseys during warm-ups, practices or games. The season before the unilateral ban, several players refused to play in scrimmages when their teams wore Pride Night jerseys. Guard Ivan Provorov, then playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, was the first player to opt out in January, citing his Russian Orthodox faith. Due to these objections, individual teams, including the New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks, decided not to have any players wear Pride jerseys during warmups.
The ban on “special” jerseys isn’t limited to Pride night, but also includes those supporting causes like hockey fighting cancer, as well as jerseys commemorating Black and Latino Heritage Month and military appreciation.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league’s new policy has been “grossly misunderstood and mischaracterized” and that the NHL still encourages “special nights where all different types of groups can be respected and raise awareness.” NHL Funds are also donated to groups participating in the special night.
“What happened last year was that the question of who wanted to wear a particular jersey on a particular night overshadowed everything we do as a club. So what we’re saying is, don’t distract from it and let our players have to decide whether they want to wear it or not. Certain jerseys.” “We want to do something or not do something, and then we get singled out and we say, ‘Let’s not touch that,'” Bettman said Tuesday on Radio’s “UnSportsman Like.”
“Anything in the game, anything on the ice. Our team and our players are constantly encouraged to give back to the community and get involved in causes that are important to them,” he continued. “But I think what we’ve done is removed the distractions. So now we can focus on the causes we want to highlight.”
Last week, the NHL sent a memo to teams clarifying what players can do during theme night festivities this season. While they can voluntarily participate in on-ice themed festivities, the updated guidance reiterates that uniforms and equipment worn by on-ice players during warm-ups, official team drills and games cannot be changed to reflect “special” theme nights.
An NHL spokesperson told that Pride tape has been allowed for years as an exception to tape restrictions, otherwise players could only use black or white tape. The league says the current ban on pride tape is to prevent teams and players from using it as a “final resort” for violating new uniform policies.
Stickers and ribbons are also prohibited on player uniforms, but coaches can wear ribbons.
Along with the themed night jerseys worn during games, NHL players’ sticks wrapped in Pride tape were auctioned off by teams to raise money for charity. Depending on the player, a game-worn autographed jersey can cost more than $1,500. Prices for a proud tape stick autographed by a player range from $600 to $1,000.
Pride Tape co-founder Jeff McLean said proceeds from the auction will benefit You Can Play, the NHL’s long-time community event partner; will help local LGBTQ+ charities in many NHL cities; and will be used to fund Pride donations to hockey organizations around the world. adhesive tape.
Both McClain and the NHL have said their relationship will continue despite the ban on player tapes. The NHL has helped ship Pride Tape to different hockey teams and leagues. Pride Tape is expected to appear at Pride Night events across the league this season.
McClain, who was informed of the ban last week, praised the league’s role in promoting the initiative. “Without the NHL, Pride Tape wouldn’t exist,” he said.
Pride Tape was launched six years ago as a symbolic way for players to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. NHL stars such as the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid and the New Jersey Devils’ Jack Hughes also participated in the event.
Ironically, McLean said his organization chose duct tape because it “didn’t want to make it something players had to do” as a team task to support the LGBTQ+ community.
“We know this won’t be accepted by everyone, but it’s a way for players to express their personal opinions,” McLean said. He has also worked with the Premier Lacrosse League, Baseball and Softball Leagues and most recently the Rugby League. Alliance Pride Tape Initiative. “We know from the tape that it was a personal choice on the part of the player.”
McClain said he has received no indication that the NHL might reconsider the ban, which was met with widespread pushback after Outsports broke the news on Monday.
“It’s really weird, but I’m actually optimistic about it,” McLean said. “We spent the most important 48 hours after the Provorov incident. There were a lot of people who cared about this.”