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NHL Bans Pride Tape, Stops Players From Showing LGBTQ+ Support At Games

Mark Barberio Colorado Avalanche rainbow tape stick LGBTQ Pride Night
Image: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The NHL championed itself for upholding its slogan "hockey is for everyone." Now, the league has made it clear that it does not stand by that message.

NHL players will no longer be able to show support to the LGBTQ+ community while on the ice.

OutSportsreports that the NHL has issued a league-wide ban of Pride Tape used on hockey sticks, not just during games, but also during warm ups and practices.

This past summer, the NHL decided that it was doing away with themed jerseys, which included ones that celebrated Pride, Black History, and Hockey Fights Cancer. After several players and teams opted out of wearing the LGBTQ+ Pride jerseys last season, the league decided that the jerseys were a “distraction.”

Breaking down the NHL pride ban

“That’s just become more of a distraction from really the essence of what the purpose of these nights are,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet. “We’re keeping the focus on the game. And on these specialty nights, we’re going to be focused on the cause.”

Now, the league is going further, banning the use of Pride tape on hockey sticks.

“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,” the memo sent to NHL teams reads. “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).”

Last year, just seven NHL players refused to wear Pride jerseys on the ice and three teams – the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Minnesota Wild – decided as organizations that the players wouldn’t wear jerseys.

According to the NHLPA, the Pride jerseys were never meant to endorse anything other than the idea that “hockey is a safe and welcoming environment for everyone who wants to participate, either on the ice or in the stands.”

Now, the NHL has made it clear that it does not stand by that message.

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