The National Hockey League has backed down on its ban on players using rainbow-colored Pride Tape and will allow them to show support for social causes on their sticks.
In June, the NHL first banned Pride Tape and other specialty gear during warmups, practices or games that supported social causes like LGBTQ+ pride or military appreciation.
But after verbal backlash from star players like Connor McDavid and even open defiance in the case of Arizona Coyotes defenceman Travis Dermott — who wrapped the shaft of his stick in Pride Tape during a game Saturday afternoon against the Anaheim Ducks — the league backed down on Tuesday, issuing a statement on Twitter:
Pride Tape launched in Edmonton, Alberta, in December 2015, and been championed by several NHL players and executives, including former NHL general manager and current executive director of the PWHL Players’ Association Brian Burke.
Pride Tape is a badge of support from teammates, coaches, parents and pros to young LGBTQ+ players. It shows every player that they belong playing the sports they love. That we’re all on the same team.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Hockey League — which oversees Canada’s three major junior hockey leagues — reaffirmed this week that member teams were free to support outside causes and organizations however they see fit.
“Decisions regarding on-ice support for community causes really rests with our teams and we don’t plan on changing that,” CHL president Dan MacKenzie said in an email to CBC Nova Scotia. “The CHL will continue to support those efforts made by our member leagues, affiliated clubs and players, along with whatever else they believe they can do to both raise awareness for important causes and help make games more inclusive for all fans.”
Teams in the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League host a variety of theme nights each season, from Pride Night to military appreciation nights to Teddy Bear Toss nights, often with special jerseys for each. Some teams also recently honored Indigenous communities during games held on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.
“People that are obviously personally affected by whatever the theme of the night is,” Patrick MacNeil, play-by-play announcer for the Cape Breton Eagles, told the CBC. “So, these are nights that fans tend to circle on the calendar and definitely look forward to every year.”