NHL bans Pride jerseys during warm-ups, claiming they are ‘a distraction’

NHL player Bo Horvat of the Vancouver Canucks wears Pride jersey during warm-up in March 2022

The National Hockey League (NHL) has banned players from wearing Pride jerseys and other “speciality” kits during warm-ups next season.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet on Thursday (22 June) that teams would no longer wear Pride jerseys during warm-ups, saying that the kit had become a “distraction”.

Sportsnet explained that during the 2023-23 NHL season, some teams had chosen to wear Pride-themed jerseys during warm-ups, while other teams did not. Some players, including Andrei Kuzmenko, also chose to skip warm-ups on the nights their teams wore the Pride jerseys

“I suggested that it would be appropriate for clubs not to change their jerseys in warm-ups because it’s become a distraction,” Bettman said on Thursday, adding that NHL teams would continue to host Pride nights.

“We’d rather those [nights] continue to get the appropriate attention that they deserve and not be a distraction.”

The commissioner added that not wearing Pride-themed jerseys for warm-ups, and instead wearing them for special Pride-themed hockey nights, would keep “the focus on the game and on these specialty nights, we’re gonna be focused on the cause”.

You may like to watch

Bettman confirmed that Pride hockey jerseys would continue to be designed and sold.

In 2021, 21-year-old hockey player Luke Prokop made history by becoming the first active NHL player to come out as gay.

In a statement posted to social media, Prokop, then 19, said at the time he hoped his coming out would “help other people see that gay people are welcome in the hockey community, as we work to make sure that hockey truly is for everyone”.

Prokop added that he had been met with “love and support every step of the way”.

Please login or register to comment on this story.