Pride Nights in the NHL have become such a staple in the past few years that most came and went without much publicity. But that changed in the 2022-23 season.
Many, but not all teams, have Pride warmups, jerseys with an LGBTQ theme usually designed by a local artist. These have been non-controversial until January when a member of the Philadelphia Flyers refused to wear one, making his refusal the story on what should have been a night of celebration.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman weighed in and international politics got inserted when anti-gay laws in Russia were used as a reason for certain players refusing to don a jersey.
Despite the controversy, the positive is that the vast majority of players wore the Pride warmups with several players commenting on how important it was to make a statement.
“For myself personally, obviously being out there and wearing the jerseys, and kind of enjoying and embracing a night like tonight — we only have so many of these nights throughout the season, whether it’s ‘Military Night’ or ‘Hockey Fights Cancer Night,’ or whatever,” said Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers. “A night like night, for me, is really about including everybody. In my opinion, it’s by far the greatest game in the world, and everyone’s invited in my locker room and our locker room as an organization.”