Several NHL Teams Cancel Pride Jersey Plans

You may remember a month ago when a professional hockey player refused to wear a Pride jersey during the warmup to a game on Pride Night. I hoped that would trigger productive talks and action, but it seems things are headed in the other direction.

It all started when Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers refused to take part in the 20-minute warmup in a home game because the team was wearing Pride-themed jerseys and using hockey sticks with rainbow tape. The event was planned in support of the community as part of the National Hockey League’s “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative that began in 2017 (again: just for the warmup period, not the actual game). The NHL started supporting the LGBTQ+ community with its “You Can Play” initiative in March of 2012, with many teams periodically hosting “Pride Night” games in addition to other off-ice endeavors. Ivan, the only Flyer not to participate, said this afterward: “I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my (Russian Orthodox) religion.”


Then weeks later, the New York Rangers mysteriously stopped plans to wear their own Pride warmup jerseys, releasing a generic statement: “Our organization respects the LGBTQ+ community and we are proud to bring attention to important local community organizations as part of another great Pride Night. In keeping with our organization’s core values, we support everyone’s individual right to respectfully express their beliefs.”

Mollie Walker, who covers the team for the New York Post, noted: “Two players separately told Post colleague Larry Brooks and me that there were no team discussions about sporting the pride-themed jerseys and tape. They did not know why they didn’t wear them. Brooks also reached out to the NHL’s deputy commissioner and chief legal officer, Bill Daly, to see if teams had been advised not to proceed with their original Pride Night plans in the aftermath of Provorov’s refusal. Daly said no and that each club is entitled to proceed as it sees fit.”

As noted by The Athletic: “The Rangers’ plans also differed from the team’s Pride Night ceremonies in 2021 and 2022, when the team advertised the use of rainbow-colored tape on sticks and Pride-themed jerseys. In previous years, the Rangers auctioned signed jerseys worn in warmups and sticks used for the Pride Night celebrations, with proceeds benefitting Covenant House and Garden of Dreams to help young people in need.”


So despite the event being advertised, fans and players were never notified of the change. Then weeks later, the New York Islanders (who already had a rule that no specialty warmup jerseys can be worn), announced that they wouldn’t be wearing the jerseys or even using the rainbow tape during warmups.

At the NHL All-Star game, commissioner Gary Bettman said: “We also have to respect some individual choice. And some people are more comfortable embracing themselves and causes than others. And part of being diverse and welcoming is understanding those differences.”

The Chicago Blackhawks were next to disappoint, ditching plans to wear Pride jerseys and instead wearing jerseys in support of Black History Month, which had been scheduled for a later game….

…when they have already work and auctioned off Pride jerseys in past years:

If both New York teams and Chicago aren’t on board, what hope is there?! (The Washington Capitols and Carolina Panthers didn’t wear jerseys, but did use rainbow tape for the warmups on their Pride Night…some teams still have their Pride games coming up.) Other teams, thank you very much Vegas Golden Nights, had no problem with the jerseys and tape:

So apparently hockey isn’t for everyone. Just as a reminder, the NHL forces players to wear special green St. Patrick’s Day jerseys. You remember St. Patrick’s Day, right? Instead of just wearing green and drinking beer, it’s also a religious celebration. But I guess that’s okay.

And meanwhile, on February 19th the Maine Mariners of the East Coast Hockey League are celebrating Women in Sports Night with…a bra toss?! “It’s the annual underwear & sports bra toss. Bring new, unopened packages of underwear or sports bras to throw onto the ice after the Mariners first goal! Proceeds will be donated to Preble Street and the Sports Bra Project.”

A big hats off to former NHL general manager Brian Burke (current president of hockey operations for the Pittsburgh Penguins), who spoke up about his disappointment—and how happy his own son was after coming out as gay:

Bravo, Brian! Wearing a jersey to say you support a welcoming environment isn’t the same as getting married to a man or watching gay porn. What a huge step back the league has taken this year. Does this trend bother you? Or do you think they shouldn’t wear Pride jerseys at all?

5 thoughts on “Several NHL Teams Cancel Pride Jersey Plans”

  1. Corporations trying to brand themselves as caring and inclusive, but forgot to ask the employees. The NHL might welcome the contrast with even more anti gay sports, like the NFL. Its probably much easier to be out in the NHL

    I doubt tons of hockey players are anti LGBTQ. Rather it probably feels like they’re being asked to endorse an agenda. They don’t want to explain to their mountain village in Slovenia that Western tolerance isn’t the same as identity. Less cosmopolitan places assume they’re the same and that’s just not in the cards for not manly, wealthy, boys who make it out.

  2. Universal Potentate

    No. This “trend” didn’t bother us before. It doesn’t bother us now. Trying to enforce people wearing pride symbols is as ridiculous as forcing them to wear BLM or KKK symbols. That does NOT mean “everyone is welcome here.” It means “We agree with this set of political issues and want everyone in the audience to vote our way.”
    And on this St. Patrick’s Day comparison, does ANYONE have ANY idea what the religious significance of that day is … WITHOUT GOOGLING IT FIRST? No. It’s about fun.
    Next time, tell us about how we must stop Latino hate with free tacos on Cinco de Mayo, because that makes as much sense and is as insulting to that community as well.

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