Pride Nights in the NHL have become a divisive issue over the last year or so. Many players have refused to wear pride jerseys due to various concerns. Others have happily supported it. Today the NHL clarified their policy on Pride Nights going forward.
NHL Bans Pride Tape
The NHL announced today as part of a clarification of their specialty night rules for organizations that pride tape on sticks is now no longer allowed. This comes as a shock to many hockey fans who were hoping to see their favorite teams and players still support the initiative.
The NHL has issued a league-wide ban on ‘Pride Tape', which was rainbow coloured hockey tape some players used by choice. Players are no longer permitted to have rainbow tape on their sticks in practices, warmups or games. Unlike the warmup jerseys that were recently banned, the stick tape was completely optional.
«Outsports has learned that the NHL has issued a league-wide ban of Pride Tape on the ice with the players during warm-ups, games and even practices. A league spokesperson has confirmed this change in policy with Outsports.»
The NHL was also forced to clarify a memo sent to every team recently after some expressed confusion. The main part that had teams unsure was:
«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. 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).»
The NHL has flipped the script on their handling of Pride Night. Before players who did not want to support the cause felt forced to. Now it seems as though those who want to support might find themselves silenced.
Players No Longer Able To Show Support For Pride Nights
Many NHL teams are still going to hold pride nights for their fans at a game. This could lead to some very awkward scenarios where fans are there to celebrate while knowing that the players and organization are being restricted by the NHL.
Players will likely now start having to find loopholes within the regulations to show potential support. In a sport whose slogan is Hockey Is For Everyone the NHL has gone to great lengths to limit showings of support for a segment of their fan base.
As the NHL season gets ramped up and Pride Nights begin it will be interesting to see if the games are as much of a celebration of acceptance as they were in the past.