NHL Teams Push Back Against Prohibition of Pride-Themed Tape
Direct discourses with McLean indicate that numerous NHL squads are taking active measures to counter the league’s newly established rule that bans players from adorning Pride-themed tape this season. After one team made a move to request an entire case of Pride Tape on Tuesday, more are expected to follow.
“This week’s meetings with teams revolve around exploring alternative actions, particularly for Pride Night,” shares McLean on Tuesday. He carries a sense of optimism, anticipating increased participation from teams by the subsequent week. And remarkably, this surge in interest is not solely coming from team administrations, but directly from the players themselves.
If the ban stays in place for the 2023-24 season, the NHL should brace for a backlash. This is especially true with less prominent Pride-themed nights planned for this season. The policy, dubbed progressive by some, is seen as a step backward by many.
Pride Tape’s Co-Founder’s Response
Dr. Kristopher Wells, Pride Tape’s co-founder, speaks to the emerging force driving the current developments, believing it may carry enough power to bring about a shift in the NHL’s policy. “There are a considerable number of players not only expressing interest in having Pride Tape but actively seeking out ways to wear it, despite the deterrent from the NHL,” he states.
Wells suggests that the NHL’s stance represents a particular generational disconnect between the decision-making board members and on-ground athletes. He conveys that the current breed of young players, more accustomed to being part of an inclusive milieu, may view the prohibition differently.
According to Wells, the prohibition overlooks the resonance of players opting for Pride-themed tape and its potential impact. However, the expectancy still looms large for this restriction to be lifted in the wake of rising opposition and players’ strong support for inclusiveness.
A Ray of Hope Dimmed
Pride Tape, a symbol of support for young people around the world struggling with their identities, has become a beacon of acceptance in the hockey community. It came as a shock to many when the NHL announced that Pride Tape would no longer be permitted. Many fans and players interpreted this move as a removal of a critical support system for struggling young people.
Star Players React
Just months after expressing his disappointment with the NHL’s decision to put a stop to themed warm-up jerseys, Oilers superstar Connor McDavid is also in disagreement with the league over its decision to ban Pride Tape.
“I’ve enjoyed all the nights that we’ve celebrated here in Edmonton, whether that’s Pride night or military night or Indigenous night, all the various nights that we’ve had and had a chance to celebrate. I’ve always enjoyed them. I can’t speak for anyone else or the league,” the Oilers captain said. “In terms of a league standpoint, is it something that I’d like to see put back into place one day? Certainly. You know, but that’s not the way it is right now,” he added.
Backlash from League Executives
Brian Burke, an influential figure in the league and a longtime advocate for inclusion, has voiced his disapproval of the new policy. His criticism was particularly scathing, arguing that the policy takes away the league’s ability to support important causes. Moreover, Burke questioned whether the policy truly promotes growth and inclusivity, arguing it instead shuts a door that has been open for many years.
Case in Point: Philadelphia Flyers
A notable example from last season is the Philadelphia Flyers. Here, Ivan Provorov garnered significant attention for his refusal to don a Pride-themed jersey during warm-ups. However, his fellow forwards, Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk, were able to meet about 50 LGBTQ+ community members in a post-game meet-and-greet event, even though their efforts were overshadowed by Provorov.
Questioning the League’s Actions
Questions are being raised about the possible actions the league would take if players acted in defiance. Both Laughton and Merrill raise these questions, wondering if such actions would inevitably lead to them being penalized, leaving the league to face potential negative publicity.
Repercussions of the mandate
In the aftermath of this directive, some players might shrug, others might find themselves at a crossroads of perception and reality. Many who exhibited Pride-themed accessories might find themselves questioned about the depth of their commitment. This development creates a decisive outline between individuals who merely espouse allyship and those who live it. Pioneers of healthy allyships do not falter on facing challenges. On the contrary, they fortify their stance.
The embodiment of true allyship
Consider Toronto defenceman Morgan Reilly: a player unruffled by the sudden turn of events. Reilly announced his resolution of fostering alternative avenues to express his allyship towards the LGBTQ+ community. He underlined that the change in rules will not alter the intrinsic fabric of his solidarity. His commitment to supporting causes that advocate for diversity and inclusion ironically becomes more potent after the NHL directive.
Upon being probed further on the subject, Reilly pointed out that the NHL’s decision will not temper their spirit or determination. He affirmed that himself and like-minded players submerge themselves into these issues with sincerity, driven by the desire to be a part of this community and to reinforce their commitment to its cause.
Reacting to this new ban, Laughton hinted at overlooking the NHL’s ban on Pride Tape. Simultaneously, the Minnesota Wild defender, Jon Merrill, indicated his intentions to use Pride Tape regardless of the ban.
Transitioning to other avenues
It seems, therefore, that Reilly and similar-minded allies, unfazed by restrictive directives, will set out to explore other opportunities for substantiating their support. Their intent towards the cause they support could not be more transparent – it’s here to stay and grow, unfaltering and unyielding from the casual to the complex.