Thanks to people like Arizona Coyotes’ defenseman Travis Dermott, the National Hockey League has reversed its ban on the use of Pride Tape during hockey games to show support for the LGBTQ+ community and fans and players who want to feel included.
The league initially banned the use of Pride Tape, both during games and also during warm-ups and practices, back in early October because the league called the tape a “distraction.” Last season, several players refused to wear Pride-themed jerseys or use Pride Tape because they said they “disagreed” with the message they sent.
“That’s just become more of a distraction from really the essence of what the purpose of these nights are,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet at the time. “We’re keeping the focus on the game. And on these specialty nights, we’re going to be focused on the cause.”
“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,” the memo sent to NHL teams about the ban reads. “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).”
— Trent Leith 🏳️🌈 (@trentl14) October 21, 2023
After the ban was put into place, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott was the first NHL player to defy the ruling and use Pride Tape during a game this season.
In the Coyotes’ win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night, Dermott wrapped the top of his stick with the Pride Tape, showing that he wouldn’t have his voice silenced by the ban.
“You want to have everyone feel included and that’s something that I have felt passionate about for a long time in my career,” Dermott, who previously used Pride Tape when he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, said. “It’s not like I just just jumped on this train. It’s something that I’ve felt has been lacking in the hockey community for a while. I feel like we need supporters of a movement like this; to have everyone feel included and really to beat home the idea that hockey is for everyone.”
“I’d be lying if I said I haven’t shed tears about this on multiple occasions,” Dermott said. He has previously said that he has family members in the LGBTQ+ community. “So yeah, it’s something I’m definitely very passionate about.”
“I’ve been blessed to have some of those opportunities put in front of me to really change my view of what being a good person means; what being a good father and a good example and role model means going forward. You really see how people are hurting and it’s because of a system that maybe no one’s intentionally trying to be malicious about, but until you’ve really had that first-person experience seeing people hurting from it right in front of you, it’s tough to kind of take steps.”
“With how many eyes are on us, especially with the young kids coming up in the new generation, you want to put as much positive love into their brain as you can,” he added. “You want them to see that it’s not just being taught or coming from maybe their parents at home. They need to see it in the public eye for it to really make an effect.”
There is word the NHL, NHLPA and NHL Player Inclusion Coalition have agreed that players will have the option to represent social causes with stick tape throughout the season. This includes games and practices
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 24, 2023
Now, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman first reported, it seems the NHL, in conjunction with the NHLPA and NHL Player Inclusion Committee, has reversed that ban and will allow players to use stick tape to stand up for social causes.
"There's no question that a number of players were talking about it."@FriedgeHNIC provides an update on the NHL, NHLPA and NHL Player Inclusion Coalition's reported decision to backtrack on the Pride Tape rule with @JeffMarek.
📺 https://t.co/SqK7M993Jz pic.twitter.com/npQ8TWYZSt
— Sportsnet 590 The FAN (@FAN590) October 24, 2023
“It sounds like there’s going to be an announcement at some point today between the league, the players’ association and the player inclusion coalition, players will have the option to voluntarily represent social causes with their stick tape throughout the season. So that’s not been made official yet, but I’ve got multiple people telling me that this is where we’re headed sometime today,” Friedman said to Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek in a phone interview.
Friedman also said that before the ban was lifted, “a number of players” around the league were planning on joining Dermott’s protest by using the tape during the ban.
Now, thankfully, they won’t have to be breaking any rules when they show support for LGBTQ+ fans and players in the sport.