NHL backs down, reverses ban on Pride tape

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NEW YORK — The NHL will no longer ban players from wearing Pride-themed equipment after Arizona Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott used rainbow-colored stick tape in a game on Saturday.

In response to several players and teams refusing to participate in Pride Nights during the 2022-23 season, the NHL banned all themed equipment for the 2023-24 campaign, including Pride tape.

Dermott, a 26-year-old defenseman who has bounced around the league, put that ban to the test on Saturday, wrapping to top of his stick with rainbow tape.

“It’s easy to forget that it’s a battle if it’s not in front of you,” Dermott told The Athletic on Monday.

The NHL decided not to punish Dermott in any way for violating the newly announced ban. On Tuesday, the league announced that the ban on Pride tape and other themed equipment had been dropped.

“I think one game probably ruffled enough feathers and got attention,” Dermott presciently told The Athletic one day before the ban was reversed.

Dermott has been a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community, routinely using Pride tape on his sticks during games.

“We are so very grateful to everyone who believes hockey should be a safe, inclusive, and welcoming space for all,” the company that makes the tape wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “We are extremely happy that NHL players will now have the option to voluntarily represent important social causes with their stick tape throughout [the] season.”