In response to significant criticism and discontent from fans and players regarding LGBTQ+ pride celebrations, the National Hockey League (NHL) has announced changes to its jersey policies.
On Thursday, Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner confirmed that teams would no longer alter their jerseys to incorporate season-themed or unique cause-based designs during warmups, as this practice had become a “distraction.”
Bettman expressed his concern that the focus on these special jerseys was diverting attention away from the various nights hosted by NHL clubs in honor of different groups or causes.
He emphasized the importance of giving these special causes the appropriate attention they deserve.
However, Bettman clarified that teams could still organize specific events like Pride Night and Military Appreciation Night.
Additionally, players may continue to model specialty items associated with these events to raise funds for charitable purposes.
Bettman emphasized that the focus should primarily be on the action on the ice.
These changes were prompted by the backlash faced by the NHL following its Pride Night events, organized to support LGBTQ+ causes.
During the past season, all 32 teams in the league organized either a Pride Night or Hockey Is for Everyone night.
However, there were instances where seven players chose not to take part in the warmups preceding the game by wearing Pride-themed jerseys.
Additionally, a few teams had initially planned for players to wear these specialty sweaters but later decided against them.
The situation first arose in January when Ivan Provorov, who was then a defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers (he has since been traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets), made the personal decision not to wear a Pride Night-themed warmup sweater.
Provorov cited his adherence to the Russian Orthodox religion, expressing his desire “to remain true to myself and my religious beliefs.”
This situation is reminiscent of the response from some Major League Baseball players when the Los Angeles Dodgers announced plans to host the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an organization known for performing drag shows that have faced criticism for their depiction of Catholic nuns.