National Hockey League reverses controversial Pride Tape ban

Travis Dermott defying the NHL's Pride Tape ban

The National Hockey League (NHL) has reversed its controversial decision to ban players from using Pride Tape, following intense backlash from fans and players.

Pride Tape had been a popular accessory among NHL players, who used it to decorate their hockey sticks and show their support for the LGBTQ+ community.

However, earlier this month, it was reported that the NHL had sent a memo to all teams ahead of the season to let them know that theme celebrations like Pride Night would have to change – one such change being the ban of Pride Tape.

The move drew heavy criticism among players like Travis Dermott of the Arizona Coyotes, who publicly defied the ban and used Pride Tape at a game over the weekend.

NHL Pride Tape
The NHL has reversed its Pride Tape ban. (Getty Images)

Following McDermott’s protest, the NHL’s public relations team issued a statement on X (formerly Twitter), which read: “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 decision is a welcome one among players and LGBTQ+ advocates.

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Following the NHL’s announcement, the manufacturing team behind Pride Tape commented that they were “extremely happy” with the move.

“We are so very grateful to everyone who believes hockey should be a safe, inclusive, and welcoming space for all. We are extremely happy that NHL players will now have the option to voluntarily represent important social causes with their stick tape throughout season,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, You Can Play, an organisation that promotes LGBTQ+ participation in sports and had criticised the NHL’s original ban, described the reversal as “a win for us all.”

A statement from the organisation, seen by CBC, read: “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 this change, and appreciate the NHL’s willingness to listen and make the right choice.”

Meanwhile, hockey fans are equally relieved to see the ban reversed and have flooded X with special thanks to Dermott for quietly but powerfully standing up for the LGBTQ+ community.

Commenting on why he decided to defy the NHL and use Pride Tape on Saturday (20 October), Dermott told The Athletic that he would rather ask for forgiveness than seek permission.

“None of the players really saw me put it on my stick,” Dermott said. 

“It was kind of just an, ‘All right, I’m doing this, and we’re going to deal with the consequences and move forward, and hopefully I’ll have a positive impact on some people that needed that positive impact.'”

He added: “You don’t want to fully back off and zip your mouth up when something like this happens, but you’ve got to find the right game plan to attack it with. 

“Where you’re supporting your organization and not making them look bad, and you don’t want to step on the league’s toes and really start a fight with them, but still tell them that I think this stuff’s important.”

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