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Across the NHL this season, there's been a small wave of players engaging in silent protest against the league's LGBTQ+ celebrations.
Players like Ivan Provorov, James Reimer, Marc Staal, Eric Staal and Ilya Lyubushkin have all opted to NOT wear Pride Night themed warmup jerseys to promote inclusiveness and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. While it's each players' right to choose whether or not to support the issue, it's clear that these protests are having a huge impact on the league's ability to deliver its message about inclusivity. When someone opts out the narrative shifts from inclusivity and supporting sexual orientation and gender identity to outright hate and bigotry, especially when it comes to the trans community. Frankly, it's disheartening and now it appears that the NHL is considering dropping the celebrations altogether.
"This is the first time we've experienced that, and I think it's something that we're going to have to evaluate in the offseason," Bettman told CTV News on Monday in Ottawa.
"This is one issue where players for a variety of reasons may not feel comfortable wearing the uniform as a form of endorsement," he said.
"But I think that's become more of a distraction now, because the substance of what our teams and we have been doing and stand for is really being pushed to the side for what is a handful of players basically have made personal decisions, and you have to respect that as well."
Indeed, these silent protests have provided a large enough distraction from the larger narrative that the NHL is trying to get behind that you have to really consider if it's all worth it? If Pride Night just provides a platform for players and fans to dump more bad faith arguments and toxic opinions out there, why bother? It's a question that needs to be asked at this point. Frankly, I'm not sure it's worth it...
Personally speaking, I would like to see the NHL do away with Pride Night celebrations.
Having said that though, I'd also like to see it do away with ALL pre-game celebrations, especially those political in nature. So that means no more Pride Night, no more Military Appreciation Night, no more Serve and Protect Night and no more national anthems before the game. It's hockey, let's leave identity politics and world issues for their time and place.