Blackhawks Connor Bedard with the Pride tape on his hockey stick
Photo credit: NHL

Connor Bedard under fire over stance on pride movement

Published March 27, 2024 at 7:44 PM

In the 2023 offseason, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league's Board of Governors opted to disallow teams from donning special jerseys for themed nights.

This decision followed instances where some players declined to wear Pride-themed jerseys in the previous season. Certain teams, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, chose to forgo wearing them altogether to steer clear of controversy. Reasons cited by some players for their reluctance included religious beliefs or concerns over anti-gay laws in Russia.

However, despite this league-wide decision, the Blackhawks proceeded with their Pride Night at the United Center. Notably, rookie Connor Bedard expressed his support by using rainbow-colored tape on his sticks during warmups.

Prior to the game, veterans Seth Jones and Nick Foligno highlighted the importance of player support for the LGBTQ+ community, emphasizing that it extends beyond merely wearing special jerseys.

"We're obviously all in on that as a team and as an organization," Jones said. "We respect any way of life anyone has, and Pride Night's obviously still ma big part of this league, and a big part of our organization from the top down."All the players are are still happy that the organization is at least having a Pride Night. We're not wearing the jerseys, but I think it means more than that. I think if everyone believes in it, it's not just about the jersey at the end of the day."

In an interview, Bettman expressed concerns that the essence of Pride Nights was being overshadowed by debates surrounding jerseys. Foligno echoed this sentiment, stressing the significance of players standing up for their beliefs and supporting each other in a respectful manner.

"I think it's wonderful," Foligno said. "I think it's great that our league still does that. The biggest thing is everyone has different beliefs, but at the end of the day, you should be able to voice what yours is in a respectful way. It's an opportunity for us to shed light on a group of people that has felt they need more of that. So it's a great opportunity for us to do that if you feel the need to do so. It's a nice way to take on leadership yourself, whatever you feel your beliefs are. I think that's a great way to grow as a person. So if that's an important part for you, then stand up and do it and and I think everyone's there to support each other."

Despite the positive sentiments, Bedard faced backlash online from self-proclaimed 'fans,' with many comments deemed too explicit to display.

As seen on HawksInsider
Connor Bedard faces backlash following stance on Pride movement

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Connor Bedard under fire over stance on pride movement

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