Arizona Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott became the first player to defy the NHL’s memo banning Pride Tape when he used it on the shaft of his stick in the team’s 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. Dermott has since explained his decision and why going against the league’s policy was so important to him.
Over the summer, the NHL sent out multiple memos to all 32 teams about how to handle specialty nights. Amongst the new policies were a ban on special warmup jerseys and the use of Pride Tape — rainbow-colored tape often used to express support for the LGBTQ community on Pride Nights.
Despite that, Dermott took it upon himself to decorate the top of his stick with Pride Tape on Saturday. In an interview with The Athletic, Dermott said he was going to ask for forgiveness instead of seeking permission.
“None of the players really saw me put it on my stick,” Dermott said. “It was kind of just an, ‘All right, I’m doing this, and we’re going to deal with the consequences and move forward, and hopefully I’ll have a positive impact on some people that needed that positive impact.'”
To this point, Dermott has not heard from the league about any potential punishment for his actions, but he will not continue his form of protest on the ice. Dermott noted that doesn’t want to put his teammates, training staff, or the Coyotes organization in a tough spot because of his actions. But that doesn’t mean Dermott is going to stop doing what he believes is right.
“The war’s not over. Definitely not, by any means,” Dermott said. “You don’t want to fully back off and zip your mouth up when something like this happens, but you’ve got to find the right game plan to attack it with. Where you’re supporting your organization and not making them look bad, and you don’t want to step on the league’s toes and really start a fight with them, but still tell them that I think this stuff’s important.”
While NHL’s memos made it seem as though the league wants to avoid hot-button issues, Dermott said he never wants to take anything for granted. Dermott doesn’t want to forget there are some people who don’t always feel welcomed in the hockey community.
“Once we stop thinking about that, I think that’s when it gets dangerous,” Dermott said.
Dermott, who has been a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ community throughout his career, said he will start using social media platforms like Instagram to continue getting his message across.