Less than a month after the NHL banned Pride tape, the league has changed its course.
On Tuesday, the NHL announced it had rescinded the ban, allowing players to represent social causes, not just Pride, during warm-ups, practices, and games.
It was thanks in part due to Arizona Coyotes forward Travis Dermott, who defied the original ban and put the Pride tape on the shaft of his stick during the team’s home opener last week. The NHL did not discipline Dermott for the matter.
San Jose Sharks forward Anthony Duclair was against the ban from the start and is glad to see someone stepped up to help the league reverse its course.
“The players have a voice, and it is a pretty powerful voice, no matter what the league thinks,” Duclair told San Jose Hockey Now.”Guys need to stick to what they believe in and a guy like Travis Dermott did exactly that, wearing the tape regardless of the ban. And it’s huge.
“It sends a message to your teammates, throughout the league, and to the fans as well that we are going to stick up for every cause and it is important that guys don’t lose sight of that you have a voice and power, and as a professional athlete, people are going to be influenced by your actions.
“It’s great that they lifted the ban, it should have never been there in the first place, so for us, we have to continue to push the message forward.”
Duclair was puzzled when the league implemented the ban in the first place.
The NHL added tape to the ban on top of its new rule disallowing the use of theme jerseys during warm-ups. Specifically, per ESPN, “on-ice player uniforms and gear worn in warmups, official team practices and games cannot be altered to reflect ‘specialty’ theme nights.”
It was enacted after Pride jerseys became a hot-button issue last year following multiple players refusing to wear them.
“I know a lot of guys are supportive of that. I have no problem in the past to do it. It sucks that’s not going to be part of the league moving forward. It’s a little weird to me, a little puzzling to me,” Duclair told SJHN shortly after the ban was put in place.
“For me, you’re also banning Black History Month. I think we’re taking a step backwards, to be honest.”
Standing up for social causes means a lot to Duclair.
A black player of Haitian descent, the new San Jose Sharks winger has experienced racism during his hockey career and he has made an effort to combat it for others.
He is an outspoken member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, he launched the Anthony Duclair Foundation, which was made to help hockey become a welcoming place for children of color, and he has participated in countless social initiatives. He also told his story in the documentary “Black Ice”:
Seeing another player defy the NHL’s ban and ultimately help get it reversed excited Duclair.
“It was great on him to do that,” he said. “I don’t know him personally, but the character he is, I’m sure he is a man who believes that hockey is for everyone. He has been pretty vocal about it in the past, so good on him and I’m glad that pushed the agenda forward to reverse the ban.”
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