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Oilers' McDavid wants NHL to reverse ban on theme tape including for Pride


Connor McDavid is not on board with an NHL policy — again.

Four months after saying he was "disappointed" by the hockey league's decision to stop theme jerseys in warmup, including for Pride, the Oilers superstar said Tuesday he also doesn't agree with a recent memo banning Pride tape.

"In terms of a league standpoint, is it something that I'd like to see put back into place one day? Certainly. You know, but that's not the way it is right now," he told reporters at Rogers Place.

The NHL decided in June to stop allowing teams to wear any themed jerseys for warmups after a handful of players refused to take part during Pride nights.

The league said players opting out, and the resulting controversies, became a "distraction."

Last week, the NHL sent a memo to teams clarifying the policy, including a ban on the use of rainbow-colored stick tape.

Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the memo to The Associated Press on Tuesday, a few hours before the season opened.

"I've commented on this before. I think everyone knows how I feel," said McDavid, a three-time MVP of the NHL.

"I've enjoyed all the nights that we've celebrated here in Edmonton, whether that's Pride night or military night or Indigenous night, all the various nights that we've had and had a chance to celebrate. I've always enjoyed them. I can't speak for anyone else or the league."

McDavid's teammate, Zach Hyman, also used the word disappointing when asked about the ban on Pride tape but suggested he won't stop supporting the LGBTQ2S+ community.

"We'll be able to support them individually, but collectively that's out of the players control. Disappointing, but out of our control," Hyman told reporters.

"It's out of our hands. I know personally I enjoyed wearing the Pride jersey, the Pride tape, the military jersey, we had Willie O'Ree night, Indigenous night, all those great things that we support."

Hyman's thoughts were similar to that of Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly, who told reporters in Toronto he wished players had the right to do more and be more involved.

"I'm going to continue to be involved in the community and offer support to those communities and those groups that want that (and) need that," Rielly said.

The co-founder of Pride Tape, an associate professor at MacEwan University in Edmonton, called the NHL rule "immoral and illegal."

"There is nothing in the NHL rule book that prevents a player from using Pride Tape. You can’t fine players for a rule that does not exist. Banning Pride Tape also impacts a player’s freedom of expression, which is a protected right," Dr Kristopher Wells wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

You Can Play (YCP), an organization that works with leagues like the NHL to promote safety and inclusion for all, also heavily criticized the league's memo.

"It is now clear that the NHL is stepping back from its longstanding commitment to inclusion, and continuing to unravel its one-time industry-leading work on 2SLGBTQ+ belonging," a YCP statement said.

"We are now at a point where all of the progress made, and relationships established with our community, is in jeopardy."

With files from The Associated Press Top Stories

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