In previous hockey seasons, players across the NHL (National Hockey League) proudly showcased their support for the LGBTQ+ community by adorning their hockey sticks with rainbow-coloured Pride Tape during games and warmups. It was a small yet powerful gesture of solidarity that resonated with fans and advocates alike. However, a recent policy change issued by the NHL threatens to erase this form of support entirely in the upcoming season.

As confirmed by an NHL spokesperson to LGBTQ+ sports blog OutSports, the new policy unequivocally prohibits players from using Pride Tape during games, warmups, and even practices. This unexpected ban has left many LGBTQ+ advocates disheartened as it removes one of the few ways in which players can express their allyship.

This decision comes on the heels of another contentious move by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who earlier announced that teams would no longer be permitted to wear Pride jerseys during warmup sessions. Bettman defended this decision by labelling the jerseys as a “distraction.”


However, Bettman clarified that teams could continue to host specialty nights, such as Black History Night, Hockey Fights Cancer Night, and Pride Night, allowing players to participate and create and sell merchandise to support related charities.

The previous season saw every NHL team hold a Pride Night or a Hockey Is For Everyone Night, with only seven players opting not to participate in pregame warmups, where their teammates proudly wore Pride jerseys. Notably, using Pride Tape on hockey sticks has always been an individual choice for players, sparking questions about why it might now be banned.

This latest move to limit LGBTQ+ representation and advocacy on the ice has been met with substantial criticism. Fans and LGBTQ+ advocates have taken to social media platforms to voice their concerns about the NHL’s evolving stance.

One X user lamented, “No Pride jerseys, no Pride Tape. How badly does the NHL want to exclude and show they don’t in any way care about inclusion?”

Another suggested a symbolic protest, saying, “The NHL should use Pride Tape to tape their mouths shut.”

A third commenter expressed frustration with the NHL’s decision, asserting that it “is not about giving the players who want to take part in it a chance—it’s silencing queer voices and protecting homophobes and transphobes. It’s clear where the NHL stands.”

Earlier this month, the NHL faced backlash for a memo sent to all 32 teams, which initially seemed to discourage players from visibly supporting special initiatives. This memo sparked confusion and outrage, leading the NHL to clarify. In the revised guidance, the NHL emphasized that players should be encouraged to express themselves off the ice and wear whatever they want, as long as it adheres to their team’s dress code.