The National Hockey League (NHL) has designated that athletes will no longer be able to show support to the LGBTQ+ community while playing, according to Out, which cited Outsports.
The league has issued a ban of Pride Tape used on hockey sticksnot just during games, but also during warm ups and practices. Also, Pride jerseys have been prohibited for warm-ups and games. (This past summer, the NHL said it was doing away with themed jerseys, which included ones that celebrated Pride, Black History and Hockey Fights Cancer.)
Pride Tape released a statement on social media, saying, in part, "The Pride Tape team is extremely disappointed by the NHL's decision to eliminate Pride Tape from any league on-ice activities.
"The league has used language in recent days which would probity the tape from any proximity to NHL Hockey. We hope the leagueand teamswill again show commitment to this important symbol of combating homophobia. Many of the players themselves have been exceptional advocates for the tape."
According to Outsports, several pro-LGBTQ+ organizations and individuals voiced their objections to the ban. You Can Playthe main partner for the NHL's LGBTQ outreach over the last decadestated, "If hockey is for everyone, this is not the way forward."
One of the most prominent agents in hockey, Allan Walsh, posted, "The NHL's banning of Pride Tape from any league on ice activity is just plain wrong. #SupportPride" He also posted a video of Jonathan Huberdeau, adding, "Jonathan Huberdeau was the 1st NHL player to use #PrideTape in a NHL game and he supports the players right to use it. #Pride"
When asked for a response, the Chicago Blackhawks told Windy City Times, "As this is a league-wide matter, we are going to defer to the NHL for comment on this, specifically." However, the team also referred to a statement from earlier this year regarding the Blackhawks' Pride Night that took place March 22:
"The Chicago Blackhawks organization is proud to continue its annual Pride Night celebration, an eveningalongside year-round effortsfueled by partnership and LGBTQIA+ community engagement. Together, our activities will focus on fostering conversation and more equitable spaces in our pursuit to make hockey more inclusive. We do not condone anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric, and we stand firmly with the community. While we know game day celebrations like these are an important way we can use our platform to bring visibility, it is the work we do together 365 days a year that can create true impact in ensuring all of our colleagues, fans and communities feel welcomed and safe within our sport."
The Blackhawks also noted that they "definitely have another [Pride Night] scheduled for the 2023-24 season (March 26, 2024 vs. Calgary at 7:30 p.m.).
Reportedly, some players plan on defying the ban and continue to use Pride Tape, Outsports noted.