From banned to boundless: How fans and fearless players scored a win against the NHL’s Pride Tape ban
The power of collective advocacy and resilience preserves inclusivity in hockey.

On the morning of October 9, 2023, sports reporting website Outsports posted an article to their website titled, “The NHL has banned Pride Tape, creating its own ‘Don’t Say Gay’ policy on the ice.” Quickly confirmed by NHL insider reporters like Chris Johnston and Pierre LeBrun, the article sent NHL fans into a frenzy. After years of stating that the game of hockey needs to grow, the league itself decided to place limitations on how its players show support for marginalized communities. 

Pride Tape has long been used by players specifically during the month of June in celebration of Pride Month. It was introduced as a supportive measure to ensure the game of hockey could become a more inclusive sport. Something as small as a different colour of tape on a hockey stick could let members of the LGBTQ2S+ community know that players in a widely known hockey league like the NHL have their backs and that the sport of hockey has a place for people like them. The announcement of a ban on this particular tape shocked the hockey world because it made it seem like all the support that had been given to the community was suddenly ripped away.

Long-time ice hockey executive and former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke stated his disappointment with the league in a post on X, calling it a “surprising and serious setback.” 

Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott has been vocal in his support for the LGBTQ2S+ community both on and off the ice for his entire NHL career, such as using rainbow laces with his everyday sneakers. His regular usage of Pride Tape was no exception. On October 21, in a game between Dermott’s current team, The Arizona Coyotes, and the Anaheim Ducks, an in-game photo of Dermott battling the Ducks’ defensemen along the boards went viral: the player was sporting a piece of Pride Tape along his stick.

In an interview with The Athletic’s Chris Johnston following the game, Dermott stated that, instead of asking for permission to use the Pride Tape, he would only plan on seeking forgiveness after the fact. While he was planning to limit his usage in the future so that the Coyotes organization would not get penalized on behalf of him defying the rule, Dermott went on to say, “It was kind of just an, ‘All right, I’m doing this, and we’re going to deal with the consequences and move forward, and hopefully I’ll have a positive impact on some people that needed that positive impact.’”

Facing backlash from almost all corners of the world from players like Dermott and fans alike, the National Hockey League announced on October 24 that their ruling on the usage of Pride Tape would be reversed. After two full weeks of athletes and reporters voicing their concerns and calling the League out for their marginalization towards an already marginalized group, Pride Tape would be allowed again for usage by players across both the Eastern and Western conferences.

This story is a testament to courageous individuals who show their unwavering support no matter what adversity they are forced to face. It demonstrates how uniting as one community can have an effect and is a clear lesson to the world that unity starts with one. 

Hockey will forever be a sport for everyone, and no rule can change that. It’s up to the fans to continue talking about it, ensuring that these potential unacceptable rules have no bearing against the sport’s inherent inclusivity. Allyship for the LGBTQ2S+ community can come in many different forms, but using our voices has to remain as our primary weapon.

Photos Editor (Volume 50) — Daanish is wrapping up his final year at UTM, majoring in Technology, Coding & Society, and minoring in Mathematics and Cinema Studies. He's aware of how odd that combination is, but that is enough to describe him in a nutshell. Carrying his cameras wherever he goes, you can find Daanish furiously writing Letterboxd reviews, cheering on the Maple Leafs, and blasting the Jonas Brothers any chance he gets.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *