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Are the NHL and NHLPA in talks to allow Pride Tape one week a year?

According to reports, the NHL is reconsidering its ban on Pride Tape and other forms of on-ice player expression.

Vegas Golden Knights v Buffalo Sabres
Alex Tuch of the Buffalo Sabres puts Pride Tape on his stick ahead of a game in 2022.
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

The NHL and NHLPA are reportedly in talks to allow NHL players to express their support for nonprofit organizations and inclusion efforts, encompassing the allowing of Pride Tape on hockey sticks.

That’s according to Elliotte Friedman, a hockey reporter for Sportsnet and NHL Network.

“I heard last week this took a big turn, that there was a realization here that this has to, this can’t go the whole year like this,” Friedman said of the backlash to last week’s Outsports report that the NHL had barred Pride Tape and all on-ice expression of support for inclusion in hockey. He was speaking to Sportsnet’s Kyper and Bourne podcast.

Outsports has also heard reports that the NHL and NHLPA are trying to find a solution to what Jim Buzinski called a self-inflicted wound.

Since Outsports’ report, the response from players, media and fans has been a cacophony of disagreement and attacks on the NHL, with some players saying they will likely use the Pride Tape anyway, to showcase their support for LGBTQ people in hockey.

Athletes using the Pride Tape and forcing the league to punish them would take the entire issue and multiply it times 10.

In addition, there are various fans an organizations planning on demonstrations throughout the season to protest the NHL’s misguided new policy.

Friedman pointed to the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats, which all NFL allows players to showcase a cause one week per season. The effort by the NFL has been very successful, helping to raise money for worthy causes by auctioning the players’ unique cleats.

“They have been talking about it, and this is one of the things they’re talking about, do you have one night a year, two nights a year, where players can go out there in the warm-up and where whatever they want, as long as it’s a cause,” Friedman said in the interview.

It’s a good idea. If the league narrowed the use of Pride Tape and other expressions to a week (one or two days doesn’t do it), it could actually elevate the entire conversation about LGBTQ inclusion, as well as other efforts to support non-profit organizations.

The only potential “sticking” point with this: Pride Tape is not a registered non-profit organization, though they are hardly making a big profit, as they distribute the tape from a member’s garage.

That may not be important, given teams and players auction their Pride Tape sticks to benefit not-profit organizations like You Can Play. And there are other LGBTQ organizations in the sports space, like Alphabet Sports Collective and Athlete Ally, or even local LGBTQ charities, that can benefit a lot from an auction like that.

Regardless, the current policy — banning all on-ice player expression of inclusion for a sport that is routinely regarded as monochromatic — cannot stand.