The league front office reportedly had been in touch with its Player Inclusion Coalition, which apparently recommended a rescinding of the ban that squashed individual voices of players.
“After consultation with the NHL Players’ Association and the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition, Players will now have the option to voluntarily represent social causes with their stick tape throughout the season,” the NHL confirmed.
Outsports originally broke the story of the ban two weeks ago after a conversation with Pride Tape’s Jeff McLean and confirmation from the league front office.
“I’m very happy that the NHL has reversed its ban on Pride Tape,” said former pro hockey player Brock McGillis, a founder of the Alphabet Sports Collective. “I think it’s critical that we don’t silence freedom of speech and individual’s rights to exprress themselves. I was someone who was OK with players not wearing a jersey because that is their right. I don’t want faux allyship from players or teams. It’s no different with the Pride Tape. If they want to, let them. And if they don’t, let them.”
The league ultimately had little choice to reverse the ban. The cacophony of voices beyond the coalition — players, former players, members of the media, fans, LGBTQ individuals and organizations like You Can Play, Alphabet Sports Collective, GLAAD and Athlete Ally — was not stopping, and it was not going to stop anytime soon.
“The NHL’s policy reconsideration and reinstating the players’ ability to support the LGBTQ+ community in hockey is a win for us all,” You Can Play board member David Palumbo said. “Actively welcoming communities into hockey is imperative to keep the sport strong now and into the future. We appreciate every person, team and organization that made their voice heard to support his change, and appreciate the NHL’s willingness to listen and make the right choice.”
Speculation has swirled for much of the last two weeks about the NHL’s handling of the league’s first Pride Night of the season, this Friday with the Arizona Coyotes. Travis Dermott had already used the tape on the ice during a game for the Coyotes last Saturday.
“Athlete Ally is thrilled that the NHL has listened to the voices of hockey players and fans who want to see the sport they deeply love allow them to celebrate who they are, and what they care about,” said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “On-ice support for Pride, cancer awareness, military appreciation and other themed celebrations allow players to spread awareness and galvanize action on the issues that matter to them.
The league has now corrected a mistake, and the entire LGBTQ community can be grateful for the change.
“The NHL has listened to its loyal fans, hardworking team players, and trusted community members and made the decision to reverse the unnecessary and hurtful policy that banned support of Pride and LGBTQ people,” GLAAD President Sarah-Kate Ellis said.
We at Outsports salute everyone who supported this change.