The NHL has announced it will prohibit the use of “Pride Tape” to celebrate the LGBTQ community, leading to concerns the league continues to move in the wrong direction on the issue.
Outsports.com reported Monday that an NHL official confirmed the league has banned the use of the rainbow-colored tape players have used on their sticks. The ban applies to not just games, but warm-ups and practices as well.
That follows on the heels of a move earlier this year by the league to prohibit players from wearing special-themed jerseys, including the rainbow-colored Pride jerseys.
Outsports also reported the league has issued a series of memos clarifying its stance on any special celebrations.
“Players shall not be put in the position of having to demonstrate (or where they may be appearing to demonstrate) personal support for any Special Initiatives. A factor that may be considered in this regard includes, for example, whether a Player (or Players) is required to be in close proximity to any groups or individuals visibly or otherwise clearly associated with such Special Initiative(s).”
The league’s latest move was likely driven by several incidents in the past year. Seven NHL players had refused to wear a Pride jersey for warmups. Several cited religious reasons, while Russian players claimed it might make them a target for reprisal by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
After the NHL banned the special-themed/Pride jerseys, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told ESPN that players enjoyed supporting the various causes.
“It was 98 percent or 99 percent of other players that wore the jersey and enjoyed wearing it and were proud wearing it — whatever jersey it was — whether it was the Pride, the military night, the cancer nights,” Stamkos said. “The story shouldn’t be about the guy that didn’t wear it — the one guy or the two guys.”
According to Outsports, the NHL’s latest move shows, “The message the NHL is sending: Hockey is not for everyone.”
Outsports went on to note, “While the jersey issue is a team-wide concern affecting every player, the use of the Pride Tape has always been an individual choice. Now the NHL has banned even that. Disgraceful. Despicable. Outrageous. Petty.”
Fans had mixed thoughts on the NHL’s decision.
— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) October 7, 2023
NHL bans Pride Tape, caters to the homophobes. A total slap in the face to its LGBTQ fan base. https://t.co/Js3hvguw8y
— Jim Buzinski (@JimBuzinski) October 9, 2023
Such journalism. Thank god you keep peppering sports teams to bend the knee to the alphabet mafia
— FloridaBuckeye21 (@BuckeyeChi5) October 6, 2023
Why are people dumping on military night as a defence of pride night? Can’t we have both nights? I don’t get the argument of countering homophobia with hating on veterans that defend our country.
— Mason Dunn (@Broxkshahsh) October 6, 2023
As far as I can tell the PA has been totally silent on this. I haven’t seen reporting that it was involved in the memo or that has any comment on it. Which is very weird, given the NHL’s framing of it. Definitely disgraceful to remain silent. Did the NHL consult w/ the PA?
— Matt Saler (@mattsaler) October 8, 2023
Don’t make it a distraction… pretty simple stuff.
— Puck What You Heard (@PuckWhatUHeard) October 6, 2023
Such a cowardly and brand shrinking decision.
— ChloeAmethyst (@AJoystealer) October 6, 2023