Apparently, rainbow tape is too much for conservatives to deal with. Back in June, the NHL banned the use of Pride-themed tape on its hockey sticks, citing concerns of distracting from the game and violating the personal rights of some players — but the message received by the public was plain old homophobia.
Luckily, the NHL’s players aren’t taking the ban sitting down. The first player to act in direct defiance of the ban is defenseman Travis Dermott of the Arizona Coyotes, who rocked Pride tape on his stick at Saturday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.
The move comes just a week before the Coyotes host the NHL’s first Pride night of the season on October 30.
Long live Pride Tape.
Between his closeted chaos and anxiety-riddled performance in the rink, Prokop says he decided, “Enough is enough. I’m accepting who I am.”
Dermott himself hasn’t commented on his choice to use the tape, but plenty of others from the world of hockey have cheered him on from the sidelines. That includes Jeff McLean, one of the co-founders of Pride Tape, who revealed that Dermott ordered a fresh shipment of the tape last week with the intention to use it throughout the upcoming hockey season.
“It means everything. It’s so incredibly powerful,” McLean said in an interview with The Athletic. “With tape not being allowed on the ice for warmups, we know from history how important these visual messages are. It just takes one person to do something powerful.”
Former NHL general manager Brian Burke, a noted advocate for queer rights on the ice, also supported Dermott with a message on X, formerly Twitter.
“Travis continues to be a courageous leader in LGBTQ+ allyship,” Burke wrote. “I hope other players follow his example.”
And what does the NHL itself make of Dermott’s anti-ban attitude? In a statement to The Athletic, the NHL simply said, “We will review it in due course.” Meanwhile, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, or NHLPA, has stayed completely silent on the ban.
Dermott is the first NHL player to defy the ban, but he likely won’t be the last. Other players have already spoken up about their plans to use Pride Tape regardless of the NHL’s rules, including Minnesota Wild defenseman Jon Merrill.
“What is the league going to do?” Merrill said earlier this month. “Take me off the ice? Give me a penalty? Then you look bad as a league. I don’t know. It’s upsetting. Just disappointing.”
Scott Laughton of the Philadelphia Flyers has also told reporters he’ll be using rainbow tape at his team’s Pride night on January 10.
“You’ll probably see me with the pride tape on that night anyway,” Laughton remarked on October 11. “If they want to say something, they can.”
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