The NHL Makes a Controversial Decision About LGBTQ+ Jerseys

NHL, New York Rangers, Pride Night jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NHL, New York Rangers, Pride Night jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The NHL announced on Thursday that players will not be wearing Pride jerseys and other theme-night jerseys during warmups beginning next season. This decision is based on some players deciding not to participate this past season.

Does the LGBTQ+ decision hurt the NHL more than it helps?

The NHL has been giving LGBTQ+ communities and groups special nights throughout the season to celebrate and honor special people that deserve a night to have their voices heard. The NHL began having problems over the past couple of seasons with certain players not participating due to some beliefs they have.

This issue has grown this season with some entire teams not participating, citing religious beliefs by some of the roster players.

Russian players Ilya Lybushkin (Buffalo Sabres), Denis Gurianov (Montreal Canadians), and Andrei Kuzmenko (Vancouver Canucks) have chosen not to wear the jerseys during warmups due to the fact that there is, according to them, a Russian law that restricts “propaganda” about LGBTQ+ people.

Five players on the Tampa Bay Lightning refused to wear the jerseys, citing their faith as the reason for the refusal.

Three teams, the Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, and Chicago Blackhawks, participated as a unit in not wearing the jerseys. All three teams previously wore the jerseys in previous seasons.

Other players that refused to wear the jerseys because of religious beliefs include Russian Ivan Provorov (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Canadians Marc Staal, Eric Staal (Florida Panthers), and James Reimer (free agent).

The players do have the right to refuse to wear the jerseys, which are worn just during warmups. That is not the issue. The issue is the NHL getting rid of this promotion for everyone in the league.

Some players have family or friends who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and they are no longer able to celebrate this moment and bring knowledge to this kind of lifestyle. The league has just wiped away a fantastic promotion and the ability to, in some cases, raise money for various causes because of a handful of players.

The LGBTQ+ community is not the only one affected by this. The news brought on by the NHL bans all theme-night jerseys during warmups. This includes military appreciation nights and Hockey Fights Cancer.

The jerseys will still be made and sold at auction but will not be worn during warmups. Regardless, this is not a good look for the NHL and Bettman.

The NHL, and commissioner Gary Bettman, should have instead instituted an idea that saw players who wanted to participate still be able to wear the jerseys. These jerseys were auctioned off to make money for certain communities. This will no longer happen.

The NHL took it upon itself to eliminate something that meant a lot to many people and for what? A few players? This feels like the league is turning its back on the LGBTQ+ community.

For the Russian players, this could be a dangerous situation, given what could occur. However, the rest of the players have chosen to wear jerseys before with no complaints. This is a black eye on the league, considering how many people celebrate pride month and how many are in the LGBTQ+ community.

The NHL certainly has more important things to worry about rather than canceling an event that saw a part of the hockey community celebrated. Again, the players do have a right not to wear the jerseys, and that is on them. However, this punishes players who want to wear the jerseys and participate.

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The NHL, and Bettman, need to reconsider bringing these beautiful jerseys back and let the players wear them who want to. Entire teams not wearing these look bad on them as well.