The National Hockey League (NHL) has reversed its decision to use “Pride Tape,” responding to feedback from various quarters.
On October 24, the NHL Public Relations office shared that the ban on “Pride Tape,” which is used to wrap hockey sticks during games, warmups, and practices, has been lifted. This decision came shortly after its initial implementation.
In their statement, the NHL Public Relations office mentioned, “Following dialogue with the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition and the NHL Players’ Association, players are now permitted to voluntarily use their stick tape to express support for various social causes throughout the season.”
Earlier in October, the NHL had instituted this ban, noting that “Players should not be obligated or appear to show personal endorsements for any particular initiatives.”
This reversal was partly influenced by significant feedback from supporters of LGBT rights. Notably, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported that by prohibiting the use of “Pride Tape,” the NHL seemed to be reducing visible support for the LGBTQ+ community.
This reversal comes after Arizona Coyotes player Travis Dermott chose to use the “Pride Tape” on his stick during an October 21 game despite the ban.
Speaking to The Athletic later, Dermott expressed his belief that the ban silenced players’ voices.
Although the updated policy is designed to be inclusive, some argue that it might make players feel obligated to use the “Pride Tape” due to societal expectations.
Yet, it’s evident that the hockey community has diverse opinions on such matters. According to reports, teams like the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks, and Minnesota Wild chose not to hold “Pride Night” games during the previous season.
One significant moment highlighting this diversity was when Ivan Provorov, previously of the Philadelphia Flyers and now with the Columbus Blue Jackets, opted out of pregame activities due to a rainbow-themed jersey, referencing his Russian Orthodox beliefs. His decision was supported by his then-coach, John Tortorella, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
Following Provorov’s public stance, his jersey witnessed a surge in demand and quickly sold out online.