Travis Dermott and Pride Tape

Updated: October 30, 2023

Earlier this year the NHL did something that caused ripples throughout the league and into a new arena, the political arena when it implemented a ban on theme nights such as Pride Night.

Caught in the middle was a company that produced Pride Tape, a hockey tape that included the Pride colors and allowed hockey players to show support for the LGTBQ+ community. It was a way of supporting the young athletes who might otherwise have left hockey rather than face homophobia and discrimination.

Many NHL players embraced the brightly colored tape and displayed it on designated Pride Nights. The NHL even introduced the slogan “Hockey is For Everyone” but that all changed when the league abruptly banned the tape over the summer of 2023. This came on the heels as several players from the NHL refused to wear Pride jerseys, stating that it was against their religious beliefs.

Several high profile players had indicated they would likely ignore the ban and still use the tape as the controversy increased with each passing day. Players and commentators alike voiced their displeasure with the NHL’s decision. Brian Burke, a former league executive and president of the PWHL Players’ Association was quick to criticize the league’s decision indicating that “This is not inclusion or progress. Fans look to teams and the league to show they are welcome, and this directive closes a door that’s been open for the last decade.” He released a scathing statement on Twitter about the Pride Tape ban.

Despite the support being shown by players, coaches and many fans, it took one player, Travis Dermott, to use Pride Tape during the Arizona Coyotes’ home opener. He ignored the ban and wrapped the tape on his stick as a sign of support despite facing possible disciplinary actions from the NHL.

Dermott said that his actions reflected what he has learned about the toxic effects of LGTBTQ+ hate on people he is close to. He did not choose to make a public statement before using the tape but instead wrapped the tape on his stick and took to the ice. “I’ve been blessed to have some of those opportunities put in front of me to really change my view of what being a good person means; what being a good father and good example and role model means going forward,” he said. “You really see how people are hurting and it’s because of a system that maybe no one’s intentionally trying to be malicious about, but until you’ve really had that first-person experience seeing people hurting from it right in front of you, it’s tough to kind of take steps.”

The ban on Pride Tape was meant to avoid the controversy of players refusing to wear Pride jerseys but the ban sparked a controversy of its own, casting a shadow over pro hockey as it opened the 2023-2024 regular season.

Facing a choice to discipline Travis Dermott or reverse its policy on the use of Pride Tape, the league relented, saying it met with the NHL Players’ Association and members of the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition in making this decision.

Would this change have occurred had Travis Dermott not done what he had done? No one can know but it took one player (not a high profile player) to take a stand and show his support for the LGTBQ+ community to make a difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.