NHL rescinds ban on Pride Tape


The NHL has rescinded its ban on players using stick tape to support social causes, including rainbow Pride Tape.

In a message on social media, the NHL issued a statement on symbolic tape in support of social causes.

“After consultation with the NHL Players’ Association and the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition, players will now have the option to voluntarily represent social causes with their stick tape throughout the season.”

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The NHL decided in June not to allow team members to wear any theme jerseys for warmups after a handful of players opted out of team Pride nights last season. The league said that it was a distraction from the work teams were doing in the community.

Earlier in October, the You Can Play project, which advocates for inclusion and diversity in sports including LGBTQ2 athletes, coaches and fans, slammed the NHL’s updated guidance banning symbols like Pride Tape.

The Pride Tape team, supported by You Can Play, said it was “extremely disappointed by the NHL’s decision to eliminate Pride Tape from any league on-ice activities.”

In a statement Tuesday, You Can Play applauded the NHL’s change of heart.

“The NHL’s policy reconsideration and reinstating the players’ ability to support the LGBTQ+ community in hockey is a win for us all.

“Actively welcoming communities into hockey is imperative to keep the sport strong now and into the future. We appreciate every person, team and organization that made their voice heard to support this change, and appreciate the NHL’s willingness to listen and make the right choice.”

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NHL player Kurtis Gabriel aims to make the league more welcoming for LGBTQ community

Kristopher Wells, co-founder of Pride Tape, and Ben Scrivens, a former goaltender for the Oilers, were reading the book “Who’s Hockey” at an Edmonton school Tuesday as part of Read-In Week.

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They both called the NHL reversing its decision a reason for celebration.

“Our Pride Tape team heard from the NHL this morning,” Wells said. “I think today is a great day for hockey and human rights.”

Wells acknowledged the NHL for listening and changing course, which isn’t always easy.

“The message of Pride Tape and the reason we’re so happy to be in the school is… to be proud of you, be proud of yourself, regardless of your difference. That’s one of your biggest strengths, your individuality, and also to know that you can be yourself and you can play the game of hockey and find support.”

“I think the NHL did the right thing,” Scrivens said. “I’m happy to see they took feedback from important stakeholders and they adjusted their policies appropriately.

“It’s a celebratory day for me,” Scrivens said. “I try to be as strong of an ally as I possibly can be.

“But you have some players really who are doing the heavy lifting, speaking out and putting themselves on the line for something they view is important.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Oilers players decry NHL’s decision to ban Pride Tape'

Edmonton Oilers players decry NHL’s decision to ban Pride Tape

Over the weekend, Arizona Coyotes defenceman Travis Dermott was the first player to defy the order on Pride Tape, playing a game with it on his stick.

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Travis Dermott #33 of the Arizona Coyotes skates on the ice with pride tape at Mullett Arena on October 21, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona.

Zac BonDurant/Getty Images

“It was very courageous,” Wells said. “Travis has long been an ally for many years, no matter what team he was on, for support of Pride Tape. We know he said this was an issue that’s very personal to him and his family. And it’s often that personal connection that makes for very strong allies.

“I don’t think we can underestimate how significant that moment was for him, as somebody who could be at risk of losing their job, easily demoted, or blacklisted from playing in the NHL. It takes a real strength of your convictions to stand on your principles.”

Scrivens said it was great to see Dermott stand up for what he believes in.

“He is a player who’s not a bonafide superstar. He doesn’t have the career stability that some of the other bigger names do. And for him to put himself out there — and he’s got obviously his own values and people in his world that he wants to support — but to put himself out there when it wasn’t the easiest time to do it, he has my admiration, he has my respect, and I can’t applaud him enough.”

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Click to play video: '‘Who’s Hockey’ book focuses on acceptance in sports'

‘Who’s Hockey’ book focuses on acceptance in sports

The Stanley Cup first appeared at a Pride parade in 2010 when then-Blackhawks defenceman Brent Sopel brought it to the celebration in Chicago. A few years later, in 2013, the league partnered with the You Can Play Project. The NHL added team Pride ambassadors in 2016-17.

Rainbow Pride stick tape debuted with the Edmonton Oilers in 2016.

Scrivens stressed Tuesday that Pride Tape sends an important visual message.

“It’s important because A, we don’t know who is and who isn’t part of a community. There’s a lot of friends and family that are hidden because acceptance isn’t as universal as we’d hope.

“So being able to use Pride Tape to put yourself out there as an advocate to say to the people in your dressing room, in your fan base, in your community, in your family: ‘I support you. I love you and I love you in the way that you are.’”

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In a statement, a spokesperson for the Oilers said:

“We support the decision to ensure players have the option to voluntarily represent social causes with their stick tape throughout the season and we’re excited to work with the local Pride Community, Edmonton-based Pride Tape and other community leaders on our annual Oilers Pride Celebration on January 18 at Rogers Place when the Oilers host the Seattle Kraken,” said Tim Shipton, executive vice president of the Oilers Entertainment Group Sports & Entertainment.

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Is hockey ready for an openly gay active player in the NHL?

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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