Opinion: NHL bans the use of Pride Tape

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A league-wide memo by the National Hockey League (NHL) Board of Directors bans putting Pride Tape on players’ sticks. 

This follows the league’s decision over the summer to ban special jerseys during warm-ups. These included LGBTQ+, ethnic, cancer and military-centric jerseys. 

“Game/practice restrictions don’t interfere with players’ ability to support in other settings. In fact, we encourage them to. (We) just don’t want to put other player(s) in a tough spot simply because they don’t choose to join,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

Nick Foligno of the Toronto Maple Leafs warming up against the Canucks on May 1, 2021. Contributed photo by Mark Blinch / NHLI Getty Image

Pride Tape launched in 2016 and has since collaborated with major sports leagues including the NHL and the Premier Lacrosse League. 

“The Pride Tape team is extremely disappointed by the NHL’s decision to eliminate Pride Tape from any league on-ice activities,” Pride Tape said in statement on X.

The NHL is a mixed bag regarding opinions about sensitive topics. Last year was a clear example of that. 

Last season, players and teams opted out of participating in pride night. Multiple Russian NHL players refused to wear the Pride Night warm-up jerseys as the anti-gay laws in Russia were mounting. The St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks scrapped the jerseys entirely out of their warm-ups. San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer opted out of wearing a Pride jersey on Sharks Pride Night and cited his religious beliefs as his reasoning. 

It is understandable why some players and teams opt out of participating in pride-themed incentives. In all fairness, they have the right not to participate if they have no wish to do so. However, the league banning LGBTQ+ representation on the ice is unacceptable. 

Of course, there has been backlash from fans, players and organizations. The You Can Play organization, which helps fight for inclusion and acceptance in the NHL disagreed with the league’s ban on Pride Tape.

“If Hockey is for Everyone, this is not the way forward,” the organization said in a statement on X

Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton said on Wednesday, “I’ll use the tape – if I have to buy it myself, I will.”

Some NHL players stated that they disagree with the Pride Tape ban, but will adhere to the league’s decisions. 

This move is a massive step backward and a contradiction for the league which previously posted an article titled,“ Pride Tape ingrained part of hockey culture.” That article was posted in June 2021. 

All this action does is make players — in the NHL and other major American sporting leagues — afraid to be open about their sexual orientation.

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Treveon Day
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