Two weeks after prohibiting its players from using rainbow-themed “Pride Tape” on their sticks, the NHL changed its mind.
“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,” a league statement from Oct. 24 said.
“Players shall not be put in the position of having to demonstrate (or where they may be appearing to demonstrate) personal support for any Special Initiatives. A factor that may be considered in this regard includes, for example, whether a Player (or Players) is required to be in close proximity to any groups or individuals visibly or otherwise clearly associated with such Special Initiative(s).” (all parentheses in original)
One “Special Initiative,” as the NHL calls dates honoring groups or causes, is “Pride Night” for LGBTQ fans. Until last season, teams would wear warmup jerseys with rainbow motifs. But when the Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov refused to wear such a jersey in January because of his Russian Orthodox faith, he ignited a chain reaction in which six other players and four teams followed suit in the ensuing 2 1/2 months, as FrontPage reported.
Three players refused because wearing the jerseys would conflict with their Christian faith. Three others, all Russian, refused in light of a Russian law extending a ban on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to adults. One team, the Chicago Blackhawks, chose not to use the rainbow-themed warmups to protect its Russian players.
As a result, the NHL decided in June to prevent players from wearing any themed jerseys on the ice, though teams could still make and sell them. The ban on “Pride Tape” followed this month, as FrontPage reported.
So what changed?
Many players and team officials disagreed with that ban. They viewed it as interfering with their support for LGBTQ activism, though NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said players and officials could support whatever causes they chose off the ice.
“It’s unfortunate,” Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said Oct. 10. “As players, we’re going to continue to be involved, pretty much no matter what the league says. We want to be a part of this community.”
Brian Burke, a former league executive and NHL general manager whose late son was gay, expressed himself more bluntly on Twitter:
“This decision has stripped clubs of a powerful community outreach tool and removed meaningful support for Special Initiatives, all to protect a select few who do not want to answer any questions about their choices. I hope the NHL reconsiders in order to remain a leader in DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion).”
Since his son’s death, Burke involved himself heavily in LGBTQ causes.
On Oct. 21, the Arizona Coyotes’ Travis Dermott defied the ban and used the rainbow tape in the team’s home opener against the Anaheim Ducks.
“You want to have everyone feel included and that’s something that I have felt passionate about for a long time in my career,” said Dermott, a defenseman who used the tape since 2021. “It’s not like I just just jumped on this train. It’s something that I’ve felt has been lacking in the hockey community for a while. I feel like we need supporters of a movement like this; to have everyone feel included and really to beat home the idea that hockey is for everyone.”
Dermott apparently made his decision without regard to the consequences others might have to face.
“I don’t want to put my teammates or my coaches or my (general managers) or the equipment managers in any kind of bad light when it’s their job to look out for something like this happening,” he said. “It was definitely something that I did just by myself and was prepared to kind of deal with whatever repercussions the league decides to push towards that. I’m not going to back off and say that this battle is won, but we’re going to find better ways to do it.”
Dermott’s and Burke’s comments not only reflect how pervasive and effective gender-identity propaganda has become. They not only epitomize the increasing tendency to equate personal identity with ideological loyalty. They symbolize the confusion between style and substance that has taken over Western culture.
Why should any LGBTQ fan feel slighted because a player chooses not to wear a jersey or use tape with a rainbow motif? Does that mean an LGBTQ fan’s money is no good at an arena? Does it mean an LGBTQ athlete should reject hockey if that athlete has the talent or interest?
More importantly, is sexuality the only determining factor for individual personality, or even the most important one?
But Burke’s comments represent something more ominous. By casting suspicion on those players who refused to wear rainbow-themed jerseys, Burke subtly suggests that anybody who disagrees with the DEI agenda is somehow less of a human being. He reflects the LGBTQ activists’ belief that anything but obsequious support, let alone disagreement, is personally threatening.
Is Burke’s arrogance so obnoxious that he believes he has the right to demand explanations from players over whom he has no authority and who have no accountability to him? Would he demand such explanations from those who believe as he does?
The self-proclaimed gatekeepers of information cooperate with the activists. When Canada’s Sportsnet reported on the NHL’s reversal and on Dermott’s defiance, it turned off comments on both stories. By contrast, when Sportsnet reported on the NHL’s decision to ban themed warmup jerseys, the vast majority of the 509 commentators approved.
One gay Canadian who supported the NHL’s ban has a message for Burke and his ideological compatriots.
“I am so sick and tired of woke left straights and big corporations virtue signaling and speaking for us actual LGBT,” a man named Jack tweeted. “We are not all offended when people have opinions. We all don’t think that you HAVE to support our community. This is a free country.” (Capitals in original)
“I am also extremely tired of woke ‘queers’ and their supporters embarrassing us like this.
“Knock it off.”