You can bet on certain players on the Vancouver Canucks being unimpressed by the NHL’s decision to ban the use of pride tape in pre-game warm-ups or practices.
It had been a small show of support that many, though far from all, players had made over the past six years.
Canucks captain Quinn Hughes, for instance, has used rainbow tape in warm-up of Pride Night. So have other teammates, like Brock Boeser.
Pride has become a big annual focus for the Canucks as a whole, with much effort put into organizing events around the night.
The NHL told teams last week that on top of not allowing teams to wear specialty warm-up jerseys any more, a decision they revealed in the summer, players aren’t allowed to use tape or any other accessories that might be seen as a workaround to the jersey ban.
But whatever personal disagreements players might feel about the league hammering down on personal choices to show support, they aren’t saying so publicly.
Before last season’s Pride night, Hughes spoke up forcefully in support of wearing the jersey. His feelings are clear.
But asked about the tape ban Tuesday, he was careful in his comments.
“You know, with Pride, we’ll always support that,” he said. “It starts at the top of the organization with the Aquilinis on down and whether we’re wearing the tape or the jerseys, that will be something that we always support and we may not be doing anything on the ice, but we’ll still be doing our things off the ice to support.”
Ian Cole, one of the newest Canucks and a strong proponent for player power, was careful in his answer.
He said one of the reasons he joined the Canucks was because of how much focus the team has put on supporting diversity initiatives in the community.
“I know the reputation that this organization has. When I came here, it was a really great selling point of this organization — how they approach these thins,” he said. “I think it is very important and I think that the NHL wants zero controversy, which inevitably gave them controversy. So, that’s the decision that they chose to make. Unfortunately, they are the iron fist there and what they say goes, so, unfortunately, they’re the bosses, they’re the ones that ultimately pay, and they’re the ones that make the rules.
“Unfortunately, as employees, we don’t get a ton of say in it. But I really respect and like what the Vancouver Canucks have done.”
Canucks GM Patrik Allvin said they had little choice to follow the rules.
“This organization has done a lot of good things in the community, as you mentioned here, and we will continue to do that. But we definitely follow the league rules and what they’re telling us to do,” he said.
The makers of Pride Tape came out swinging, saying they were extremely disappointed about the NHL’s ban.
“The league has used language in recent days that would prohibit the tape from any proximity to NHL hockey. We hope the league — and teams — will again show commitment to this important symbol of combating homophobia,” they said in a statement.
Pride Tape donated the proceeds of the sale of their tape to You Can Play, the NHL-affiliated organization that was founded to promote inclusivity.
You Can Play, an organization that works with leagues like the NHL to promote safety and inclusion for all. were very critical of the league’s decision.
You Can Play also heavily criticized the league’s memo.
“It is now clear that the NHL is stepping back from its long-standing commitment to inclusion, and continuing to unravel its one-time industry-leading work on 2SLGBTQ+ belonging,” TCP said in a statement.
“We are now at a point where all of the progress made, and relationships established with our community, is in jeopardy.”
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