Update: NHL players have been contacting Pride Tape to get the LGBTQ rainbow tape for their sticks, seemingly to display during games, despite a ban on the tape from the NHL front office.
“I would not be surprised at all if you saw an NHL player use Pride Tape, regardless of what the NHL said,” a Pride Tape spokesperson told Sportsnet. This is similar to what Outsports has learned.
With the NHL making the absurd and infuriating decision to ban the use of Pride Tape on hockey sticks — even in practices — it’s up to players to ignore the discriminatory edict and take a stand for the LGBTQ community.
Stars such as Connor McDavid have worn the tape on their sticks and spoken up for inclusion in hockey, including welcoming any players who come out as gay.
By defying the league’s ban, they can make a statement that will have impact.
What will the NHL do if players decide to wrap their sticks in Pride Tape during a pregame warmup?
A fine? Players can afford to pay it.
A suspension? Highly unlikely since it would make the ban on the tape into an even bigger story.
McDavid spoke out in June when the league announced it was banning teams from wearing Pride jerseys during warmups.
“It’s not my call, but obviously it’s disappointing,” McDavid said. “I certainly can’t speak for every organization. I know in Edmonton, we were one of the first teams to use the Pride Tape. We strongly feel hockey is for everybody, and that includes the Pride Nights.”
A player with the stature of McDavid or Jack Hughes of New Jersey using the tape would raise the issue to one the league could not ignore, and any harsh punishment would make officials look even more clueless than they are now.
A thread on Reddit reacting to the Outsports story has more than 1,300 comments, with the large majority condemning the Pride Tape ban.
“Would love to see a few big names like Crosby, McDavid, MacKinnon, etc tape their sticks with rainbow tape anyway,” one comment read. Said another: “Whoever the first player to do it is, I’m buying their sweater.”
Another comment pointed out the NHL’s hypocrisy: “So just so we’re clear. The NHL can’t force you to participate in pride because it’s a freedom of expression issue. But they can force you to not participate in pride activities and that’s not a freedom of expression issue?”
One point can’t be made enough: There were only seven players who objected to Pride Nights this season, less than 1% of the total leaguewide. By banning Pride jerseys and Pride Tape, the league is catering to the 1% over the 99% and homophobia over inclusion. Pride Tape was never mandatory anyway, so why ban something that has always been voluntary?
I think the tape ban is so absurd and will be so mocked that the NHL will have to rescind it. If not, it’s up to players to show they care more about the “Hockey Is For Everyone” slogan than the people who run the sport.