It’s a work-around the team has devised after the NHL and league commissioner Gary Bettman mandated that no Pride jerseys be worn by anyone on the ice during warm-ups or a game (or that anyone support any worthy causes on the ice).
In addition, various players used Pride Tape on their sticks during warm-ups, including Devils player Curtis Lazar, as well as Oilers players Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Stuart Skinner, according to NJ.com’s Ryan Novozinsky.
However, the highlight of the night may have been how the Devils got the Pride jersey onto the ice regardless, as the team mascot proudly wore it:
The jerseys were designed by local artist Kathryn Kennedy “to represent coming out, this notion of breaking the barrier to be able to live freely and openly,” Kennedy said in a statement. “I strayed from using an easily identifiable border, as well as having groups of circles break away from the larger clusters/logo, to further the idea of breaking the barrier.”
The jerseys, autographed by the players, are being auctioned to raise money for Hyacinth, a New Jersey-based organization working to stop the spread of HIV and other STDs. A 50/50 raffle that night will also support Out Montclair, an LGBTQ organization in, you guessed it, Montclair, N.J., a community about 10 miles north of Newark.
The Devils have hosted a Pride Night every (non-pandemic) season since 2017, creating what, by many accounts, is one of the best Pride Nights in the NHL, embracing both the push for LGBTQ inclusion in sports and the local community. The push for a Pride Night with the team was helped by Joe Altenau, a Prudential Center executive who came out publicly in 2017, and whose advocacy within sports landed him on the Outsports Power 100 this year.
In 2019, Devils player Kurtis Gabriel used Pride Tape on his stick and brought attention to LGBTQ inclusion in the sport.
The Devils currently have one of the very few women and out LGBTQ people in hockey operations, Director of Player Development Meghan Duggan.