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NHL Reportedly Bans Use of Pride Tape

Nearly five months ago, the NHL “solved” its Pride Night controversy by banning all pregame promotional jerseys — Pride, camouflage, St. Paddy’s Day, all of them. Now Outsports is reporting that the league has gone a step further by banning rainbow-patterned Pride Tape “during warm-ups, games, or even practices.” A league spokesperson has reportedly confirmed the new policy, although the league hasn’t yet officially commented on the report.

It’s not clear whether the ban would also apply to other message-driven stick tape designs, such as camouflage, stars/stripes, and so on.

The new policy represents a remarkable about-face from just 16 months ago, when the league was so gung-ho about Pride Tape that they invited Pride Tape founder Jeff McLean to write an article on The article begins:

Being invited by our friends at the NHL to join them for the 2019 WorldPride parade was as incredible as you might imagine. But what happened days prior at the NHL headquarters in New York City was the moment that will always stick with me.

We wanted to reciprocate their thoughtful invitation to New York by offering to help our friends at the NHL get their bus ready for the parade. In a brief, quiet moment alone waiting for the freight elevator, I looked out across the sea of office cubicles. The office was empty thanks to their half-day Friday summer perk. Poking above a number of employee pods were random hockey sticks, wrapped in Pride Tape. To this day, it reminds me how our small actions can have a lasting impact, how we can share messages of acceptance without using words.

It’s not clear whether the NHL’s new Pride Tape ban also applies to employees at the league’s offices.

Comments (50)

    This league continues to give me no reason to watch, all because 7-10 guys homophobes refused to wear rainbow colors during warmups.

    Bingo. They’re letting a few backward assholes ruin a nice sentiment for everybody.

    Absolutely disgraceful. Gary Buttman makes me ashamed to be a hockey fan, but I’ve never been prouder to be me ️‍

    Thank goodness. I’ve grown so weary of pride, camo, pinktober, and the like on uniforms and accessories. It’s bad enough we have to put up with ads on jerseys, hats and helmets. I shouldn’t have to check a team’s social calendar to decide what game on their schedule I can attend if I want to see them in their normal garb. (Normal being a relative term since every team seems to have 3-8 different uniforms.)

    Oh no! A player’s personal preference on what color tape to use is going to ruin watching grown men on skates for you!

    Well, we know what side of the fence you’re on. I have seen comments on here aabout people disagree with that lifestyle as homophobes. Others calling Gary Bettina, Gary Buttman. You never said one word to them.

    Yet someone responds in a different. You claim it to be a personal attack. SHM!!!

    I can’t police every comment. I just try to maintain a civil atmosphere on my website as best I can.

    Also, there’s a difference between insulting Gary Bettman and insulting another Uni Watch commenter.

    If you’d like to discuss the NHL’s new policy, please feel free to discuss that. That’s what we’re here for. I’m just asking that you do so without insulting other commenters. That’s all.

    Paul, I understand this job (moderating the comment section) ain’t easy, nor is it one you probably want to do in an ideal world.

    But I gotta say, chastising a person for responding to a bigoted comment but not the bigoted commenter isn’t a great move imo. I can respect that you want this to be more of a forum, and immediately not shut down differing opinions, but also that you don’t want the comments to turn into a warring, reddit-like, hellscape. But Zach’s comment (in my opinion) was far less unkind than the sentiment being subtly expressed by the parent comment.

    I’m not even saying “you should’ve laid into the original commenter and let Zach go free”. While *I* think there was a bad intent behind their comment, there’s more than enough reasonable doubt that it was just a banal statement. But I think it sends the wrong message to go the extra mile and reply to the comment when you can just lock the comment thread.

    Again, thanks for what you do, it’s not an easy task, I’m just providing my personal input, feel free to take it or leave it

    Thanks for your feedback, Grant — genuinely appreciated.

    Let’s please get back to discussing the NHL’s policy. And let’s please do it without insulting other Uni Watch commenters. Thanks.

    Sigh. You mockingly and sarcastically ridiculed him. If you don’t think that’s insulting, let me clarify things for you: It’s insulting.

    I’m really not interested in who’s “right” or “wrong,” or whose “side” I’m supposedly on. One last time: Just behave in a civil manner so we don’t have Uni Watch becoming a toxic environment like so many other parts of the internet.

    Now let’s please move on. Thanks.

    So glad the NHL is leading in this regard, and I hope the other leagues follow suit. Politics do not belong on sports uniforms or equipment. If not wearing a rainbow jersey or whatever else makes it hard for you to watch the NHL, good riddance, go enjoy another sport.

    it (or military, irish, heritage) is when it’s at an even that has nothing to do with said organization. Sports events are not support events, they are sports events. that’s what people are paying to see. Anyone can go, anyone can play, no one needs to declare an approval or disapproval of things beyond the game at hand.

    So players (again, talking about *individual* players, not teams) can’t put something on their stick, or their cleats, or their cap, or their gloves that supports a cause they care about because “that’s political”? Individuality is okay, as long as we all do it the same way?

    Do you feel the same way when a football player puts a bible verse on his eyeblack? Or when they take a knee after scoring a touchdown? What’s “allowed” expression and what isn’t, because some people might consider over religious expression to be political?

    “Anyone can go, anyone can play, no one needs to declare an approval or disapproval of things beyond the game at hand.”

    Would that it were so simple.

    Good, looking forward to the banning of national anthems (an expression of … identity, quite specifically political) at all sports games.

    You want to see how National Anthems should be sung? Watch the Rugby World Cup. These guys are singing LOUDLY for their countries, hands over their hearts, some of them crying simply because they get to play the sport that they love for their country.

    That being said, the South African flag and anthem may not be allowed this weekend in the Quarterfinal matches due to a controversy over SA’s not updating its Anti Doping legislation in time.

    You really want to see how much some of the teams love their countries heritages, watch the passion of the New Zealand haka, or the Fijian Cibi, or the Samoan Siva Tau or Tonga’s Sipi Tau.

    If only certain folks in various US Sports could figure that out.

    I am 100% in favor of national anthems being sung loudly and proudly in international sporting events where teams are representing their country.

    It cheapens the anthem to play it before EVERY SINGLE GAME in EVERY SINGLE LEAGUE when the United States isn’t being represented. It should be saved for special events. Play it before opening day. Play it before games ON Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, 9/11. Playoff games? Absolutely. But it becomes rote and cheapened when it’s played before every game at every level of every league. Heaven forbid someone doesn’t stand or remove his/her cap…the shame!

    They don’t do this ritualistic display anywhere but the US and Canada during every single game.

    To make and keep the anthem special it should be reserved for special events and occasions. I’m 100% for it anytime the US of A is involved in any event where we’re representing the US of A. We don’t need it for a Wednesday night game between the Mets and Marlins.

    If you want to play a patriotic song before games, how about we play This Land Is Your Land (with ALL the verses)?

    My comment about appreciation for the Anthem is specifically in reference to US Athletes representing their country overseas. Compare any country in the Rugby World Cup to the absolute embarrassment of the USWNT and how they treated our anthem during the Woman’s Soccer World Cup.

    I could go either way about the national anthem before US Sporting Leagues Events.

    You are aware of the circumstances surrounding the athletes’ decision, yes?

    Sometimes the only way to draw attention to your legitimate grievances is to take actions that some may view as “anti” patriotic.

    How do you feel about Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ actions? Do you feel they had legitimate grieveances with their (and others like them) treatment as US citizens? They chose to express those grievances in an international setting during the playing of the national anthem. It was a seminal moment.

    Female athletes, and soccer players in particular, have gotten the short end of the stick in terms of treatment, facilities, pay, etc. You can argue that there may have been more appropriate venues for them to vent their very legitimate complaints, but perhaps they viewed it differently. I’m not defending their actions during the past WC, but to seemingly blindly bash them for not being super patriotic is taking a very narrow view of a very complicated situation.

    Let me go back to my initial point. The Rugby players in the Rugby World Cup are emotional when their national anthem plays to the point of showing tears. Unless it’s an athlete who is 100% amateur, you don’t often see that same response out of the US athlete.

    It’s not the national anthem, but give me thousands of Irishmen in green singing “The Fields of Athenry” at the top of their lungs and tell me it doesn’t move you. You may be dead.

    This is not leadership, it’s denial.
    Politics is inextricable. It’s how power is wielded, including by the NHL not formally declaring this ban but letting it leak right as the season starts.

    Not saying there’s a correlation, but the NHL never had an issue with players publicly supporting causes until they started putting ads on the uniforms, thus making the players themselves the advertisement.
    Now the players have to “shut up and stickhandle”.
    The question becomes, Who exactly are they really trying not to upset? People or their “corporate sponsors”?

    I appreciate your attempt to look at this from another angle, but your conclusion doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Whether it’s done in good faith or not, corporations in the public eye tend to support Pride.
    To me, it’s quite the opposite – the NHL never had an issue with players publicly supporting causes until a small minority started speaking out against them.

    This kind of opens a can of worms though. Is the NHL saying that anything rainbow is now LBGT positive? Or do they just not want the visual distraction of rainbow tape and it is not associated with anything else?

    So really then what they need to do is say “black tape only” and that’s that. Because any time you now give the players a choice, it has the chance of being supportive of one cause or another. The rules for equipment should be specific enough to generally limit choices, but not so specific to say there’s only one way.

    Like, you can use whatever color tape you want, but it should not be political in nature. Use the rainbow tape all you want, but you can’t say it supports pride openly. It’s just rainbow tape.

    I think the NHL has but 1 rule regarding tape color – that is the end of the goalie’s stick must be white (no color of any stripe…especially black since it could be confused with the puck by officials?

    From a Greg Wyshynski article for ESPN (link):

    An NHL spokesperson told ESPN that Pride tape had been allowed for years as an exception to its stick tape restrictions, which otherwise would allow players to use only black or white tape. The league said the current ban on Pride tape was to prevent teams and players from using it as an “end around” to violate the new uniform policy.

    At my job at the Salvation Army, I wear a Pride rainbow pin badge on my blue apron even though individual expression is frowned on an the SA is an expressly Christian organization, because I have no truck with groups of people who say I should return to the shadows. This is 2023, for fuck’s sake.

    Based on your name, I can only read your comment in the voice of John Goodman as Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski. More power to you!

    So players (again, talking about *individual* players, not teams) can’t put something on their stick, or their cleats, or their cap, or their gloves that supports a cause they care about because “that’s political”? Individuality is okay, as long as we all do it the same way?

    Do you feel the same way when a football player puts a bible verse on his eyeblack? Or when they take a knee after scoring a touchdown? What’s “allowed” expression and what isn’t, because some people might consider over religious expression to be political?

    No, take it all off, they wear a uniform. “uniform”, it means all the same.

    Since I can’t reply to the comments in question, I’ll just leave this here. I’m really disappointed with Paul’s response to Zach earlier. Nothing Zach said was insulting in the slightest. I too would like to focus on uniform stuff, but when there’s a post about something of this nature, people are going to have strong views. If you don’t want responses like this, you should reconsider posting things that *you* think have a ‘political’ angle. I, for one, do not think supporting gay folks or cancer survivors is remotely ‘political,’ but your mileage may vary.

    Actually, Jonas, I never said this topic wasn’t political. (Other people were debating that, not me.) I simply asked Zach to make his points without directing personal insults and ridicule at another commenter, because that generally makes the discussion descend into, well, more insults and ridicule.

    Most of the other commenters on this post have managed to do that without any problem, resulting in a good, robust discussion. That’s what we’re here for.

    It’s entirely possible to disagree strongly with someone’s comment — to have “strong views,” as you put it — without making it personal. Frankly, it gets tiresome to keep having to explain that simple point.

    If you find that disappointing, so be it.

    Perhaps I can take some of the lift from Paul here. While anyone is free to make views known and discuss them, the HOW part matters. Zach’s wording was sarcastic, snarky, condescending, and possibly mean spirited to make fun of the other commenter.

    I find it hard to believe that people don’t realize that’s not an example civil discourse, regardless of how valid the point may be. It’s also a terribly ineffective way to get people of an opposing viewpoint to see and be further open to one’s own, though that didn’t seem to be the goal in this case.

    This has been doomed to happen ever since pro sports started their camo, “G.I. Joke,” first responders, etc. thinly disguised merch grabs. None of these promotions had any inherent limiting principle, so they were always doomed to result in uni or gear choices that would seriously divide athletes & fan bases sooner or later. Now the NHL’s been backed into a no-win situation of its own making, by its own greed and pandering, and it won’t be the last team or league to incur this.

    A distinctive set of clothing intended to identify the members of a specific group.

    I’m less concerned about Pride tape than I am about the lack of uniformity in uniforms. Way too much “personal expression”, from uniform pants down at the ankles, to nine different variations of a sock or a belt. Don’t get me started on the personal expression shoes.

    The pride tape (as listed above) was an administrative (e.g., not codified) exception to the rule. So if we enforce the rule AS WRITTEN we don’t have an issue.

    I was looking up the New York Rangers logo and came across this on the 1926 NHL season. “The New York Rangers’ primary logo has a long and storied history that dates back to the team’s formation in 1926. The original logo featured an image of Lady Liberty holding a hockey stick with the word “Rangers” written across it.” And then I found this “ Tex Rickard, president of Madison Square Garden, was awarded the Rangers in 1926. Rickard’s franchise began play in the 1926–27 season. The first team crest was a horse sketched in blue carrying a cowboy waving a hockey stick aloft, before being changed to the familiar “RANGERS” in diagonal.”

    I’m disappointed by this. I’m generally pretty conservative when it comes to uniforms – a classicist, as Paul would say, maybe even more extreme. I want jerseys, pants, helmets, etc. to be the way they were when I was 12, because that’s objectively the best time in the history of literally everything. But hockey tape has never been part of the uniform. It’s always been up to the individual. Some guys took advantage of that, especially kids and rec league guys that I’d see at the pro shop I’d work with. I still have an old CCM helmet with bumblebee stripes taped down the middle that I did when I worked there. Tape has a fun tradition in hockey, and this company found a fun way to leverage that. Kinda reminds me of the thigh pad people in football. Regardless of my political views, I probably never would’ve taped my stick with Pride Tape, because it’s not my style, but I liked that they existed and were doing their thing.

    See, thats what Im sayin…..
    Lets the Players decide….they doin all the work….
    B – D

    Is this related to the murmurings about the potential impact rainbow tape might have on Russian athletes? Since technically just being associated with it could be grounds for their arrest or their families harassment. Similar deal with wearing camo that supports a NATO member and stuff. Just seems like a specific problem the NHL could have

    I have my own preferences….but banning tape is cheap….let players decide if they want to support a people or cause, so long as it harms no one….
    I disagree with the posters and staff here sometimes….but, geez, they all are respectful….
    Paul is showing strong shoulders here on these things, props…..Phil, you always got his back…props…
    I always look at Uni-tributes (symbols, numbers, tape, patches as a Salute…FOR something….not against nothing……
    B -D

    Scott Laughton of the Flyers has already gone on record saying he will use rainbow tape on Pride Night. I’m sure he’ll be fined for it. I would be angrier if the Flyers were penalized during the game. I have no problem with expressing one’s right to speak freely, so long as the team isn’t penalized. He can withstand whatever fine he incurs but I wonder if the NHL would go to such lengths, as they really want to shut this down.

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