The NHL has reversed its decision to ban Pride Tape after backlash from fans and players alike.
Outsports reports that the ban was lifted after the league's Player Inclusion Coalition recommended its reversal. The controversial policy was issued two weeks ago at the start of the season, and prohibited players from showing their support for LGBTQ+ causes not just during games, but also during warm-ups and practices.
NHL reverses pride tape ban
In recent years, National Hockey League teams added LGBTQ+ Pride to their seasonal theme nights, which also include events such as Black History, military appreciation, and Hockey Fights Cancer. On these nights, players wear jerseys corresponding with the theme while they warm up, which are later auctioned off with the proceeds going to related charities.
Last year, just seven players refused to wear the jerseys, citing their own personal beliefs. Some teams responded by taking the choice away from players and removing Pride jerseys entirely. The New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Minnesota Wild decided as organizations that the players wouldn’t wear jerseys or tape. Other teams, such as the Carolina Hurricanes and Chicago Blackhawks, only used tape.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called the special apparel a "distraction" when announcing the decision to nix themed jerseys entirely over the summer. The Pride tape ban came just a few months later.
Several players and former players spoke out about the decision, including Arizona Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott, who broke the rule on Saturday by donning Pride tape for the team's first home game of the season.
Following the reversal, players will now have the choice to don Pride tape or not. The tape will not be standard for players to wear on Pride nights — as it previously was — and the themed jerseys for all nights are still nixed.Advocacy groups for LGBTQ+ inclusion in sports, such as Athlete Ally and You Can Play, have still celebrated the NHL's recent reversal as a win for inclusion in professional sports. You Can Play board member David Palumbo said via Outsports that "actively welcoming communities into hockey is imperative to keep the sport strong now and into the future."
“The NHL’s policy reconsideration and reinstating the players’ ability to support the LGBTQ+ community in hockey is a win for us all,” he said, adding, “We appreciate every person, team and organization that made their voice heard to support his change, and appreciate the NHL’s willingness to listen and make the right choice.”