Maple Leafs’ Rielly, Treliving respond to NHL’s Pride tape ban

Mitch Marner joins the Jeff Marek Show to discuss the NHL's new on-ice policy surrounding Pride Nights, but says he and the Maple Leafs organization still plan to give as much love and support to the community as they can.

Support for 2SLGBTQ+ community
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TORONTO — Morgan Rielly believes the National Hockey League’s decision to ban Pride tape from league events is “unfortunate,” but the new regulations won’t deter him or the Toronto Maple Leafs from showing support to the 2SLGPTQ+ community.

“It’s unfortunate. But I think as players and as people,” Rielly said Tuesday. “We’re going to continue to support those people and those causes that we think need it or are worthy and very deserving of it. Whatever statement was made is fine, but as players, we’re going to continue to offer support and be allies. We want to be a part of this community.”

Rielly has been one of several NHLers who routinely wrapped his hockey stick in the rainbow tape for warmups during the league’s annual Pride Nights.

In the wake of a handful of players across the league declining to wear pride sweaters in warmups in 2022-23, the NHL did away with all specialty, cause-based sweaters for warmups.

On Monday, OutSports reported that the NHL extended this ban to the use of Pride tape in league-sanctioned events, as detailed in a memo circulated to its 32 clubs:

Players shall not be put in the position of having to demonstrate (or where they may be appearing to demonstrate) personal support for any Special Initiatives. A factor that may be considered in this regard includes, for example, whether a Player (or Players) is required to be in close proximity to any groups or individuals visibly or otherwise clearly associated with such Special Initiative(s).

The league’s decision has been met with wide criticism by fans as well as Pride Tape and the You Can Play Team, who both released strong statements.

“If Hockey is for Everyone, this is not the way forward,” You Can Play stated, throwing the NHL’s inclusive slogan back in its face, and calling for NHLPA support. “We are now at a point where all the progress made, and relationships established with our community, is in jeopardy.”

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly defended the league’s Pride tape stance during an appearance on Halford & Brough in the Morning on Sportsnet 650 Tuesday.

“We had some issues last year with players feeling uncomfortable in supporting certain causes, and we didn’t want our players to be put in that situation going forward,” Daly said.

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Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving said that both he personally and the Leafs as an organization have always been supporters of the 2SLGPTQ+ community. Memo or no memo.

“Nothing’s gonna change that,” Treliving said. “We’ll figure out our ways that we make sure that we do the right things and support as we always have and stay true to what we believe in. There’s always challenges in in the world, but that doesn’t affect how we support.”

Rielly, for one, won’t be deterred from speaking in support of marginalized groups.

“I wish players had the right to kinda do more and be more involved,” Rielly said.

“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. As players, we’re going to continue to be involved, pretty much no matter what the league says.”

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