Though Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar said he understands the NHL’s decision to ban the usage of Pride tape, he also believes the league’s choice has put players in a “tough” position.
“When one individual kind of goes astray, it kind of looks bad on the whole community,” he told The Athletic’s Peter Baugh. “For us – 99% of the guys in the league – it’s all about growing the game and making sure it’s inclusive for every single guy. … (The NHL is) trying to take out that individual thinking and helping the league in terms of not putting any solo guy in that spot.
“At the same time, we live in a world where it needs to be inclusive for everybody. … As an individual, with my point of view, I’m here to make the game as inclusive as possible.”
Some players refused to wear their teams’ Pride-themed warmup jerseys last season. The NHL then announced in June that athletes would no longer be allowed to wear specialty jerseys during warmups on theme nights, which also include Hockey Fights Cancer and military appreciation celebrations. The league then sent a memo to all 32 teams in October prohibiting Pride tape on sticks.
“The tough part in media is now those guys’ choices reflect everything on the league,” Makar said. “That’s kind of the hard point. … To have those guys do that, it’s a little bit of a cheap shot for everybody else, knowing that people are like, ‘We’re taking a step back.’ In my mind, I think we just keep moving forward.
“There are a lot more things we could be doing, but it’s unfortunate that stuff is still where it’s at. You see one guy take his perspective out of line, and everybody gets associated with that. It’s unfortunate, but at the same time, I think a lot of heads in the league are in the right spot where we want to grow the game for good reasons.”
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott was the first known player to defy the NHL’s Pride tape ban. Dermott explained his decision Monday, saying that the movement needs “supporters” to help everyone in hockey feel included.