Connor McDavid Expresses Disappointment Over NHL’s Ban On Themed Jerseys

In a recent development, the NHL has made the decision to ban themed warm-up jerseys, and it has garnered mixed reactions from players and fans alike. One prominent figure expressing his disappointment is Connor McDavid, the talented captain of the Edmonton Oilers and the face of the NHL. McDavid, known for his exceptional skills on the ice, voiced his concerns at the NHL awards ceremony in Nashville, stating, “It’s disappointing to see.” While he acknowledged that the decision was not within his control, McDavid emphasized his disappointment with the league’s choice.

A controversial decision
Image source : Sporting news

A Controversial Decision

The NHL’s board of governors, in alignment with commissioner Gary Bettman’s perspective, decided to discontinue the use of special pre-game threads for the upcoming season. This resolution came as a result

of a few players refusing to wear rainbow-colored Pride jerseys during the 2022-23 season, which led to unwanted distractions. The league believed that these refusals overshadowed the sincere efforts made by teams to host Pride nights and show support for the LGBTQ+ community.

McDavid, speaking from his position as a team captain, conveyed his team’s commitment to inclusivity, saying, “We strongly feel hockey is for everybody, and that includes the Pride nights.” The Edmonton Oilers were among the first teams to use Pride tape, symbolizing their dedication to making the sport accessible to all.

The Future of Theme Nights

While the decision to ban themed warm-up jerseys is disappointing for many players and fans, it is important to note that theme nights themselves will still be celebrated. The NHL will continue to observe

Pride nights, military appreciation nights, and Hockey Fights Cancer nights, among others. Teams will also be involved in designing and producing autographed jerseys to raise funds for charitable causes, despite players not wearing them during warm-ups.

Disappointment Amidst Support

Steven Stamkos, the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning and winner of the Mark Messier Leadership Award, expressed his disappointment regarding the focus on the few players who chose not to wear Pride

jerseys. He stated that the story should not revolve around those who declined but rather highlight the positive impact generated by these special nights. Stamkos believed that the notion of distraction overshadowed the genuine goodwill arising from these events.

As per CBC News , Commissioner Bettman defended the league’s and teams’ handling of the situation, emphasizing the importance of tolerance and inclusivity. He noted that being “open, welcoming, and inclusive” involved acknowledging and respecting diverse viewpoints.

Individual Choices and Reasons

Several players decided not to participate in warm-ups while their teams sported Pride jerseys. Ivan Provorov, a Russian defenseman previously with the Philadelphia Flyers, was the first NHL player to refuse to wear a Pride-themed warm-up jersey. He cited religious reasons for his decision. In addition,

Canadian players James Reimer and Eric and Marc Staal expressed similar religious beliefs. Russian players Ilya Lyubushkin, Denis Gurianov, and Andrei Kuzmenko also opted out of their teams’ Pride nights, with Lyubushkin referring to an anti-gay law in Russia. Furthermore, the Chicago Blackhawks decided against Pride night jerseys due to the same reason.

Shifting the Focus

Despite the disappointment expressed by some players, others understood the league’s decision to address the distraction caused by the controversy. Mikael Backlund, a forward for the Calgary Flames and

recipient of the King Clancy Award, highlighted the need to shift the attention back to the right reasons. He stated, “All of us were wearing the jerseys… everyone was looking at, ‘Who’s not and why not?’ I understand the decision the NHL made to take that distraction away.”

Kris Letang, a defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins and winner of the Bill Masterton Trophy, expressed his understanding of players’ decisions not to wear themed jerseys. He believed that it did not necessarily indicate a lack of support but rather aimed to make the sport of hockey accessible to everyone.


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