To “eliminate distractions,” the National Hockey League banned players from using Pride Tape to wrap their hockey sticks. Here’s the whole story.
Hockey Sticks Wrapped in Pride Tape
For several years, professional ice hockey players have used rainbow-colored “Pride Tape” to wrap their hockey sticks to support the LGBTQ+ community.
Multipurpose Sports Tape
Pride Tape was introduced initially in 2015 to encourage LGBTQ+ youth to play team sports. The company said the tape can be used on “hockey sticks, shafts, bats, rackets, handlebars, etc.”
Pride Tape Banned
The National Hockey League recently banned Pride Tape and said that players cannot use it at anytime. The ban immediately sparked a backlash from some hockey players.
No More “Specialty Jerseys”
Earlier in the summer, the NHL announced that players could no longer wear “specialty jerseys” for themed game nights, including rainbow jerseys on Pride Night.
Players Will Still Show Their Support
Hockey teams and players will still show their support for “the LGBTQ+ community, Indigenous groups, the military, and people fighting cancer,” just not by wearing a themed jersey.
NHL Sent Out a Memo
Shortly before the 2024-2025 season started, the NHL sent a memo informing players that the ban also applied to the Pride Tape.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the changes would hopefully “eliminate distractions.” Bettman said, “What happened last year was that the issue of who wanted to wear a particular uniform on a particular night overshadowed everything that our clubs were doing.”
Professional hockey players were upset about the recent ban on Pride Tape, saying it was a “surprising and serious setback” for the National Hockey League.
It Is What It Is
Rasmus Andersson, who plays for the Calgary Flames, said, “It’s something that’s close to my heart and something I would love to support, but it is what it is, and we’ve got to find other ways to support it.”
Morgan Rielly, the Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman, said the ban was “unfortunate.” He said the players would still “offer support and be allies.”
Spineless Move by the Commissioner
Another player, Zach Sullivan, spoke out against the ban, saying it was an “ill-informed, ridiculous, and spineless move” from the NHL commissioner.
One Player Challenges the Ban
One player for the Arizona Coyotes showed his disdain for the ban by wrapping the top of his hockey stick with Pride Tape for the team’s home opener game. Travis Dermott was the first hockey player to challenge the NHL’s ban.
He Sent a Message of Equality
One person on the social media platform X was proud of Dermott for “taking a stand.” This person said he “used his platform to send a message of equality” and “everyone should respect the heck out of that.”
Cut Him Immediately
Others weren’t happy to see Dermott take a stand. One person said the team should “cut him immediately,” and another said he should face a “suspension.”
Just Focus on Hockey
Another person said the players “just need to focus on hockey and nothing else” because “that’s what they’re being paid for.” This person believed that if a player wants to “show their support for something political,” it should be done “away from the rink.”
Stop Politicizing Everything
Someone else said, “We just want to watch our sports team play without being subjected to politics.” Many others agreed, saying, “Just play hockey and stop politicizing everything.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock /Eugene Onischenko. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.