The NHL’s decision to discontinue themed warmup jerseys does not sit well with Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid.
After a season in which a handful of players refused to wear Pride-themed jerseys, the NHL will move away from themed warm-up jerseys next year.
Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers poses with the Hart Trophy during the 2023 NHL Awards at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, June 26, 2023. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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“I certainly can’t speak for every organization. I know we were one of the first teams in Edmonton to use the Pride tape,” McDavid said at the NHL awards ceremony on Monday. “I know that in Edmonton, in our locker room, we have a strong sense that hockey is for everyone. That also applies to Pride nights and things like that.
NHL PLAYERS WILL NOT WEAR PRIDE JERSEY DURING WARM-UPS: ‘KEEPING THE FOCUS ON THE GAME’
“Obviously it’s disappointing to see. That said, it’s definitely way beyond my decision. It’s not my choice, but of course it’s disappointing to see.”
While teams still hold Pride nights and other themed events, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the themed jerseys will no longer be worn on the ice.
“I suggested that it would be appropriate for clubs not to change shirts during the warm-up as it has become a distraction and a distraction from the fact that all our clubs organize evenings in one form or another celebrating different groups or charities, and we’d rather they continue to get the proper attention they deserve and not be distracted,” Bettman told SportsNet Thursday at the NHL board meeting.
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Vancouver Canucks Pride Night jerseys hang in their locker room before their NHL game against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, March 31, 2023. (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Bettman said the themed jerseys will continue to be sold while players are allowed to “model” the jerseys.
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Tampa Bay Lighting captain Steven Stamkos also spoke about the NHL’s decision, saying most of the players participated in wearing the warmup jerseys.
“It was 98 percent or 99 percent of the other players who wore the jersey and enjoyed wearing it and were proud to wear it – whatever jersey it was – whether it was the Pride, the military night, the cancer nights,” Stamkos said, according to the Canadian Press. “The story shouldn’t be about the guy who didn’t wear it – the one guy or the two guys.
Steven Stamkos, of the Tampa Bay Lightning, speaks onstage after being presented with the Mark Messier Leadership Award at the 2023 NHL Awards at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, June 26, 2023. (Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
“I understand that’s what gets the clicks and that’s what gets the views, but the word ‘distraction’ is used. I don’t think it has to be a distraction. It’s a good thing that came out of those nights.”
On Tuesday, the NHL announced the launch of the Player Inclusion Coalition, which aims to diversify the sport.
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The program includes 20 members with “a range of perspectives on players of color, LGBTQ+ players and allies” who “will work to advance equality and inclusion in the sport of hockey on and off the ice,” the league said.
Connor McDavid, of the Edmonton Oilers, speaks to media during the 2023 NHL Awards player availability at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, June 25, 2023. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
“Each member of the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition shares a passion for bringing diversity and inclusion to the forefront of the hockey community. It’s been incredible working together to empower players’ role as advisors, ambassadors and catalysts for real change to come. benefiting underrepresented groups in the game,” said Co-Chairman Anson Carter, who played in 674 NHL games. “As we move into the next phase of the coalition, we are excited to increase our impact by sharing more of our work with fans and inviting everyone who loves hockey to join us.”
Ryan Morik of Fox News contributed to this report.
Joe Morgan is a sportscaster for Fox News.