NHL to ban ’cause-based’ jerseys next season

The NHL will not allow teams to wear “cause-based” jerseys next season, the league confirmed Thursday.

The league’s board of governors agreed with commissioner Gary Bettman’s view that the denials overshadowed teams’ efforts to hold Pride parties which, in some cases, included the auction of jerseys. warming up. The 32 teams organized the Pride or Hockey is for Everyone evening.

Teams will still be celebrating Pride and other themed nights including Military Appreciation and Hockey Fights Cancer. They are also expected to still design and produce jerseys to be signed and sold to raise funds, although players will not skate with them during warm-ups.

Pride jerseys became a hot topic in the league last season after several players refused to wear them during warm-ups.

Bettman, in an interview with Sportsnet following the Board of Governors meeting in New York, said he suggested teams stop having special warm-up shirts because theme nights were plagued by the chatter about some players refusing to participate.

“It just became more of a distraction from the essence of the purpose of those nights,” Bettman said. “We stay focused on the game. And on these specialist nights, we’re going to focus on the cause.”

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov was the first to make the move, citing his Russian Orthodox beliefs.

Florida Panthers brothers Eric and Marc Staal also refused to wear their team’s Pride jersey, citing religious reasons.

WATCH | A handful of NHL players oppose wearing Pride-themed jerseys:

A handful of NHL players refuse to wear Pride-themed jerseys

Canadian NHL players Mark and Eric Staal are the latest to join a handful of others who are refusing to wear Pride-themed warm-up shirts in support of the LGBTQ community. This sparked a debate about inclusivity and personal freedom among pro-hockey.

Some Russian players did not wear the jerseys for security reasons when returning home. In December, Russia amended its anti-gay laws making it “illegal to spread ‘propaganda’ about ‘non-traditional sexual relationships’ in all media, including social media, advertising and movies”, according to The New York Times.

However, Russians like Evgeni Malkin from Pittsburgh and Sergei Bobrovsky from Florida have worn the jerseys.

Three teams — the Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and NHL team Chicago — canceled their Pride Night warm-ups, but kept other events.

“Worried and disappointed”

You Can Play, which has worked with sports and leagues – including the NHL – to help them become more inclusive for members of the LGBTQ+ community, said it was “concerned and disappointed” by Thursday’s decision.

“Today’s decision means that over 95% of players who have chosen to wear a Pride jersey in support of the community will no longer have the opportunity to do so,” the organization said in a statement.

“The work to make locker rooms, meeting rooms and arenas safer, more diverse and more inclusive must be ongoing and focused, and we will continue to work with our NHL partners, including individual teams, players, officers and the NHLPA to ensure this essential work continues.”

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