NHL backtracks on Pride Tape ban, will allow players to represent social causes | CBC News

NHL backtracks on Pride Tape ban, will allow players to represent social causes | CBC News

Canada

The National Hockey League is ending its ban on players supporting social causes on their equipment, including a popular stick tape in support of the LGBTQ community, the league announced on Tuesday.

Move comes days after Arizona player Travis Dermott defies ban

Benjamin Blum · CBC News

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Men's hockey player holds stick in right hand, with glove resting on the ice and Pride Tape adorning the blade of the stick.

The NHL on Tuesday ended its ban on Pride Tape. (Rich Lam/Getty Images/File)

The National Hockey League is ending its ban on players supporting social causes on their equipment, including a popular stick tape in support of the LGBTQ community, the league announced on Tuesday.

The move comes days after Arizona Coyotes defenceman Travis Dermott defied the ban and added Pride Tape to his stick during a game on Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks.

WATCH | NHL player defies league’s Pride Tape ban:

Arizona Coyotes player Travis Dermott defies NHL’s Pride Tape ban

Featured VideoArizona Coyotes defenceman Travis Dermott became the first NHL player to defy the league’s ban on Pride Tape during games. The move is under review, but many expect other players will soon follow suit.

“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,” the league posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The manufacturer of the rainbow-coloured tape posted on X that it was “extremely happy” with the move.

“We are so very grateful to everyone who believes hockey should be a safe, inclusive, and welcoming space for all.”

We are so very grateful to everyone who believes hockey should be a safe, inclusive, and welcoming space for all. We are extremely happy that NHL players will now have the option to voluntarily represent important social causes with their stick tape throughout season. @nhl @NHLPA pic.twitter.com/XjmQUZkMbD

@PrideTape

Brian Burke, a longtime NHL executive and LGBTQ advocate who previously criticized the league’s ban, praised Dermott in a social media post celebrating the decision.

“Great news for the hockey community today. Congratulations and thank you to all of you who made your voices heard in support of LGBTQ+ inclusion in hockey — especially the courageous Travis Dermott,” he posted on X.

In a statement, the NHL Players’ Association said it was “pleased to see the league’s policy has been revised so that players are free to support causes they believe in.”

Ban widely criticized

Prior to the start of this season, the NHL sent a memo to teams clarifying what players can and cannot do as part of theme celebrations this season, including a ban on the use of rainbow-coloured stick tape for the Pride nights that have become a hot-button issue in hockey.

The move drew criticism from players around the league — including Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs veteran Morgan Rielly — as well as from players from the nascent Professional Women’s Hockey League.

The NHL also came under fire from You Can Play, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ participation in sports and has partnered with the league for the past decade.

In contrast, the Canadian Hockey League — which oversees major junior hockey across the country — reaffirmed its stance that teams in its leagues can continue to support outside causes and organizations.

After Tuesday’s announcement, You Can Play called the decision “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,” the organization said in a statement.

The NHL decided in June not to allow teams to wear any theme jerseys for warmup after a handful of players opted out of those situations during Pride night last season. The league has said players opting out of Pride nights served as a distraction to the work its teams were doing in the community.

WATCH | Why the NHL stopped wearing themed warmup jerseys: 

NHL players to stop wearing Pride jerseys

Featured VideoThe NHL is ending the practice of teams wearing special jerseys for theme nights after a handful of players refused to wear Pride jerseys, something the commissioner called a distraction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Benjamin Blum is a video optimization producer with CBCNews.ca based in Toronto. He has also worked as a digital news producer and senior writer with CBCNews.ca, covering an array of international and domestic issues. Previously, he was a member of the CBC Sports digital team with a particular focus on rugby. He holds a master’s of journalism from the University of King’s College in Halifax. You can contact him at benjamin.blum@cbc.ca.

    With files from CBC’s Matthew Moore and The Associated Press

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