The Pride Tape ban lasted all of two weeks.
Days after Arizona Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott defied the ban with some of the multicolor tape in a game against the Anaheim Ducks, the league announced Tuesday that players will be able to use Pride Tape to show support for the LGTBQ+ community.
“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 NHL said.
The NHL was faced with the likelihood other players would challenge the ban that went in place ahead of the season, a rule the league quietly rolled out after it banned pre-game jerseys for theme nights for any cause.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met with the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition members last week before Dermott used Pride Tape on Saturday. In that meeting, multiple coalition members pushed for the NHL to allow the use of Pride Tape without consequence, a source with knowledge of the situation told Front Office Sports.
The NHL’s response to a few players last season refusing to wear rainbow-adorned jerseys last season resulted in the warmup jersey ban for all theme nights from Pride to Hockey Fights Cancer.
“What happened last year was that the issue of who wanted to wear a particular uniform on a particular night overshadowed everything that our clubs were doing. So what we said, instead of having that distraction and having our players have to decide whether or not they wanted to do something or not do something and be singled out, we said, ‘Let’s not touch that,'” Bettman told ESPN Radio’s “UnSportsmanLike” earlier this month.
The NHL’s reaction to theme nights and the Pride Tape ban grew out of the league’s fear of backlash from conservative media, the source told FOS. Several of such outlets amplified Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ criticism of the NHL’s diversity job fair that was scheduled to take place ahead of last season’s All-Star game in Florida.
The NHL eventually canceled the “Pathway to Hockey Summit.”