The NHL faced criticism for banning the use of rainbow “pride tape” on players’ sticks at the beginning of this season, a move that appeared to contradict their “Hockey Is For Everyone” message. However, the negative response to this decision has prompted a swift change in course.
While a few NHL players had expressed their reluctance toward LGBTQ-themed jerseys in the past, they represented a small minority. Nonetheless, this resistance seems to have been enough to compel the league to rethink its stance.
Earlier this month, the NHL informed players that the use of pride tape during the 2023-24 season would not be allowed. Many fans viewed this decision as an unnecessary mistake that attempted to address an issue that did not truly exist. The simplest solution would have been to allow players to decline participation.
Several notable players, including Connor McDavid, Brad Marchand, and Morgan Rielly, voiced their disagreement with the league’s decision. Some players even took it a step further. Flyers center Scott Laughton threatened the NHL with fines, vowing to use pride tape when the team dedicates a night to the LGBTQ community in January. Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott beat him to it by using pride tape on his stick during a game against the Sharks.
Now, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reports that the league is preparing to reverse its policy, just weeks after its initial announcement. An agreement with the NHLPA will give players the option to use pride tape for social causes throughout the season, including games and practices.
While the NHL’s decision to ban pride tape created unnecessary controversy, it seems that common sense has prevailed.