NHL Eliminates Themed Warmup Jerseys in Response to Pride Night Controversies
The NHL has made a significant decision regarding themed warmup jerseys for the upcoming 2023-24 season. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that teams will no longer wear specialty jerseys during warmups for themed nights, following discussions at the league’s Board of Governors meeting.
This move by the NHL comes in the wake of controversies surrounding the handling of various Pride nights throughout the league in the previous season. Some players refused to wear the warmup jerseys, and certain teams opted not to don LGBTQ-themed jerseys at all.
After the meeting, Bettman spoke to Sportsnet about the decision, noting that the debate surrounding the jerseys had become a “distraction.” He believed that removing the jerseys would shift the focus back to the significance of the themed nights themselves.
“I’ve actually suggested that it would be appropriate for clubs not to change their jerseys during warmups because it has become a distraction, detracting from the fact that all our clubs, in their own way, host nights in honor of various groups or causes,” stated Bettman. “We would rather see those nights receive the attention they deserve without any distractions.”
While acknowledging that the jerseys can contribute to making LGBTQ fans feel more included, Bettman reiterated his view that they had become a source of distraction.
“These concerns are valid, but ultimately, the distraction caused by which teams and players wear these jerseys has undermined the overall efforts and emphasis on these important causes,” Bettman explained. “This way, we can maintain a focus on the game itself. During these special nights, our attention will be directed towards the cause.”
Bettman clarified that Pride nights and other specialty nights would continue in the NHL. The only change would be the absence of themed warmup jerseys worn by the players.
“Absolutely, all 32 of our clubs held Pride nights. Some have Heritage nights, and everyone participates in Hockey Fights Cancer. Certain teams organize military nights. All of these nights will continue,” assured Bettman. “The only difference will be that we won’t change jerseys during warmups because, in reality, that aspect has become more of a distraction from the core purpose of these nights.”
The discussion regarding NHL Pride nights gained attention when former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov decided not to wear the team’s warmup jersey due to religious reasons. Throughout the season, Eric Staal, Marc Staal, and James Reimer also refrained from participating in Pride Night warmups for the same reason.
Some NHL teams chose not to wear special warmup jerseys at all due to concerns over new anti-gay laws in Russia, which could have put players from that country at risk if they promoted LGBTQ causes. Despite having Russian players on their rosters, teams such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, and San Jose Sharks proceeded with Pride Night warmup jerseys.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NHL controversies
Q: Why did the NHL decide to eliminate themed warmup jerseys for themed nights?
A: The NHL made this decision due to controversies surrounding the handling of Pride Nights, with players refusing to wear the jerseys and teams opting out. The league wanted to refocus attention on the causes and reduce distractions.
Q: Will specialty nights like Pride nights still continue in the NHL?
A: Yes, specialty nights including Pride nights will still be observed in the NHL. The only change is that players will no longer wear themed jerseys during warmups.
Q: What was the rationale behind eliminating the warmup jerseys?
A: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stated that the jerseys had become a distraction from the essence of the themed nights. By removing them, the league aims to maintain focus on the game and give the causes the attention they deserve.
Q: How did controversies surrounding themed warmup jerseys arise?
A: The controversies arose when some individual players, like Ivan Provorov, chose not to wear the warmup jerseys for religious reasons. Additionally, concerns over Russian anti-gay laws led some teams to opt out of wearing LGBTQ-themed jerseys, as it could put their Russian players at risk.
Q: What impact will the elimination of themed warmup jerseys have on LGBTQ inclusion?
A: While the jerseys were seen as a way to promote inclusion and make LGBTQ fans feel more included, the NHL believes that the decision will help refocus attention on the cause itself and prevent the distraction caused by debates over which teams and players wear the jerseys.
More about NHL controversies
- NHL.com – NHL eliminates themed warmup jerseys following Pride Night controversies
- Sportsnet – NHL eliminates themed warmup jerseys after Pride Night distractions
- ESPN – NHL eliminates themed warmup jerseys for themed nights
- The Athletic – NHL to discontinue themed warmup jerseys in response to Pride Night controversies
- CBC Sports – NHL decides to end use of themed warmup jerseys for themed nights