Shortly after Outsports received confirmation from an NHL spokesperson that Pride Tape was now prohibited in the League, this website shared the news with sports fans.
Cyd Zeigler summed it up in his reporting: Hockey is not for everyone.
Outsports readers — and people across North America — agreed, taking to social media in droves to lambast the ban and its wider implications.
Only last year, Jeff McLean — the co-founder of Pride Tape — wrote in a first-person essay for the NHL’s website about the “incredible support” that the League had offered back in 2016 when the rainbow-colored tape was just a grassroots idea being crowdfunded by a Kickstarter campaign.
He described going to NHL HQ in New York City ahead of World Pride 2019 and looking across the sea of office cubicles: “Poking above a number of employee pods were random hockey sticks, wrapped in Pride Tape.
“To this day, it reminds me how our small actions can have a lasting impact, how we can share messages of acceptance without using words.”
On Monday, he was having to find the right words as he fielded media inquiries, telling the likes of the New York Post that “Pride Tape will not be used on the ice this year in the NHL”.
Pride Tape released a lengthy statement on social media, essentially saying they’re not done yet:
You Can Play, the main partner for the NHL’s LGBTQ outreach over the last decade, slammed the league and its decision to ban Pride Tape:
You Can Play speaks on the NHL’s decision to disallow pride symbols of any kind, including Pride jerseys and Pride tape on the ice for warm ups and games. pic.twitter.com/CobD5TSEnK— You Can Play (@YouCanPlayTeam) October 10, 2023
In recent years, countless numbers of NHL players have wrapped the tape around their sticks to demonstrate their support for LGBTQ inclusion and their commitment to fighting homophobia in their sport.
Now that show of solidarity is set to be a thing of the past, if the NHL gets its way.
Former NHL player JT Brown tweeted: “Very disappointed by this decision. The league should be making it easier for NHL players to support marginalized communities, not more difficult.”
Brown also liked a tweet posted by his wife Lexi which contained an image of him with Pride Tape on his stick during his spell with the Minnesota Wild in the late 2010s.
Long live pride tape. It was literally only 15 min during warmups in one game a season, but I guess even that was taking up too much space . pic.twitter.com/UQ5WjpxtID— Lexi Brown, PhD (@lexilafleur) October 10, 2023
One of the most prominent agents in hockey, Allan Walsh, said he was “disgusted” with the NHL’s decision.
The Co-Managing Director of Octagon Hockey has looked after many stars of the sport, such as Stanley Cup winners Marc-Andre Fleury and David Perron.
Gary Bettman has once again failed the game. This abhorrent backsliding by banning pride tape goes against the very essence of “Hockey is for Everyone”. I’m disgusted. https://t.co/A266DKRWOS— Allan Walsh (@walsha) October 10, 2023
CBC broadcaster Devin Heroux, who is gay, highlighted the NHL’s own 24-page ‘Accelerating Diversity and Inclusion’ report released in October 2022.
Data in the report shows the LGBTQ+ representation in the League’s own workforce. 3.85% of employees taking the survey said they were lesbian, gay, bi or another sexual orientation other than heterosexual, with a further 3% of respondents declining to answer.
Almost exactly one year ago today the NHL published a first-ever Diversity & Inclusion Report.— Devin Heroux (@Devin_Heroux) October 10, 2023
The report was "part of a growing culture of accountability, transparency, and commitment to meaningful progress."
Today we learned that Pride Tape is banned in the NHL.
That report didn’t reflect trans and non-binary representation among NHL employees but for Anaheim Ducks house organist Lindsay Imber, who has worked with the team since 2015, the “close proximity” phrase in the League’s memo made her question whether she would be allowed to continue in her role at Honda Center.
Did...did I just get banned from the NHL for being trans? https://t.co/jfCllqdoME— Lindsay Imber (@LindsayImber) October 9, 2023
Joe Altenau, who was 64th on the inaugural Outsports Power List of the most influential LGBTQ people in sports, also flagged how the NHL’s own D&I report calling for “essential transparency” made its latest move all the more bewildering.
Altenau drove the New Jersey Devils’ highly successful Pride Night initiatives during his time with the team. He came out publicly in 2017 and was one of only a handful of out gay men working in the League before he left for an exec role with the New York Road Runners.
The @PrideTape has always been OPTIONAL. Today the @NHL told players they can’t support a teammate, friends, family or fans who are members of the #LGBTQ+ community. Would love to see the @NHLPA join the conversation. https://t.co/azP54kAwID— Joe Altenau (@joealtenau) October 10, 2023
Meanwhile, Sportsnet host Donnovan Bennett called for one of the NHL’s big-name stars to show their support by using Pride Tape in defiance of the ban.
I’d love for one of the games truly great players to wear @PrideTape for every game this season to see what the reaction is.— Donnovan Bennett (@donnovanbennett) October 9, 2023
Allies are needed when it’s uncomfortable not when it’s comfortable.
It’s a view shared by Outsports’ Jim Buzinski in his op-ed Tuesday, saying that if the NHL doesn’t quickly rescind the Pride Tape ban, fans will be looking to the players for a reaction.
We’re watching and waiting.