Updated 8:30 p.m. Jan. 3, 2021: After publication of this story, Kurtis Gabriel provided Outsports with new information: he’s been wearing these customs skates every day of training camp, since Friday, which we’ve added to the story below.
Kurtis Gabriel, the San Jose Sharks forward who adopted Pride Tape for his hockey stick and uses it for every game he plays, has been wearing a new pair of skates at training camp that are getting a lot of love on social media. They’re emblazoned with the message “Love Is Love” and the traditional LGBTQ rainbow flag colors.
His tweet and Instagram post includes a video showing him at the rink wearing the skates, all suited-up in his official team hockey jersey and uniform — holding a Pride-Taped stick, of course. In addition to the Pride skates, Gabriel also introduced a pair with the words, “Hope” “Empathy” and “Change” and the acronym BLM, representing the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to Gabriel, he helped design both pairs, which he promises to sell at auction.
“Very excited to unveil these skates, designed by @guby_customs and I, and then executed by Guby himself,” he captioned the video. “Thanks to @playtruehockey for being on board with this project. The more visible I can make these issues, the more conversations that will be sparked = more change. Simple as that.”
“Love is love in any form. ANY FORM. Science tells us (you know, on that thing called the internet, that is accessible to a lot of this planet) that a large portion of the population of earth is on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Also, you can be who you want to be, and shouldn’t have to fear for negative repercussions for being just that.”
“Lets cut the BS, and judge people on their character, work ethic, compassion, kindness, and empathy,” Gabriel said in his Twitter and Instagram posts.
There was, of course, some blowback and criticism from LGBTQ-haters and anti-BLM Twitter accounts. Whatever. The other responses were overwhelmingly positive.
Although league rules state that players are supposed to only wear skates “cleared for use by the NHL” in official practice or in regulation play, Gabriel’s fans on Twitter are all a-glitter about the idea.
Sharks organization do NOT let us down. This is what and who the NHL needs !!— Mikey Mike (@MikeyBoyCanada) January 3, 2021
Can we make a petition?— HockeyWasAMistake (@SharksAvsDevils) January 3, 2021
In case you were wondering:
“RULE 9.1 TEAM UNIFORM: All players of each team shall be dressed uniformly with approved design and color of their helmets, sweaters, short pants, stockings, and skates. Altered uniforms of any kinds, i.e., Velcro inserts, over-sized jerseys, altered collars, etc., will not be permitted. Any player or goalkeeper not complying with this rule shall not be permitted to participate in the game...
“All Players are permitted to wear only the equipment that has been cleared for use by the NHL, as set forth on the List of Cleared Equipment Prototypes for use in the National Hockey League.”
Following our publication of this story, Gabriel sent Outsports the following message, clarifying that not only has he been wearing the LGBTQ Pride flag skates for days, but that he requested the NHL’s approval months in advance, and is still waiting on a decision by the league.
“I have worn them for every skate of training camp so far, starting Friday the 1st,” Gabriel said. “I reached out to the league mid-summer, I believe. They were great, said they would get back to me. Gave it a while, and then reached out again. They said they had a meeting planned for it the following week, and they would get back to me. They did not. I know they were EXTREMELY busy with preparations to find a way to make this pandemic season a reality. They have done an amazing job. Things change daily here, so I know the work for them is far from over in keeping this season going.”
“I just decided that I purposefully didn’t make the skates too flashy, and that it would work. They are just as noticeable as me wearing pride tape on my stick, nothing more nothing less. Same as the BLM skate. Peter Gubernator from Guby Customs worked with me and agreed they were subtle, but powerful. Thinks it’s going great so far, only been good feedback!”