The National Hockey League has rescindedand will allow players to use it on the ice this season, it said in a brief statement Tuesday.
“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 statement read.
Players will now be able to represent social causes with stick tape during warm-ups, practices, and games, a complete reversal from earlier this month, when the NHL sent out a memo outlining what players can and cannot do around themes — including not being allowed to use pride tape on sticks at practice or in games.
Pride gear became a controversial issue earlier this year when seven players decided not to participate in warm-ups and wear rainbow jerseys during Pride month in June. After the refusals, the NHL — which has a web page dedicated to Pride month and “building a community that welcomes and celebrates authenticity, and the love of hockey” — teams won’t have special jerseys for pregame warmups during themed nights next season. That decision that was reaffirmed in a memo earlier this month.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet in a June interview that, “We’re keeping the focus on the game. And on these specialty nights, we’re going to be focused on the cause.”
Outcries from LGBTQ advocates, players, and other executives reopened discussion around the ban. On Saturday, Arizona Coyotes player Travis Dermott defied it in a game against the Anaheim Ducks, placing Pride tape on his stick, CBS Sports reported. The ban was rescinded three days later.
“Great news for the hockey community today. Congratulations and thank you to all of you who made your voices heard in support of LGBTQ+ inclusion in hockey- especially the courageous Travis Dermott,” famed hockey executive and outspoken advocate on LGBTQ inclusion Brian Burke said in a statement on social media Tuesday.
The makers of Pride Tape posted on X that they are “so very grateful to everyone who believes hockey should be a safe, inclusive and welcoming space for all.” The company was “extremely happy” that NHL players “will now have the option to voluntarily represent important social causes with their stick tape throughout season.”
— Reporting contributed by the Associated Press