Wild players ditch themed warmup jerseys on Pride Night

The Wild are the second team to drop the themed jerseys after the Rangers made a similar decision for their Pride Night earlier this season.

The NHL and its allyship have yet again reached a crossroads, leaving fans to wonder once more whether the league’s “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative is anything more than empty words.

This time around, the Minnesota Wild, while celebrating Pride Night for the second time in the club’s history, find themselves in hot water after taking an enormous step in the wrong direction.

Despite announcements by the club to wear and later auction off Pride-themed warmup jerseys against the Calgary Flames, the organization reportedly opted against doing so at the last minute, calling off the jerseys just hours before puck drop.

While some players did show support during warmups, including using pride-themed tape and pucks, the move to exclude jerseys sends a clear message that the NHL still has a lot of work to do in its social advocacy campaigns.

The decision to drop the jerseys is yet another troubling revelation amidst a season rife with inflection points on hockey’s stance on diversity and inclusivity. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov brought the issue to the forefront after he sat out warmups and refused to wear the Flyers Pride-themed jersey back in January. The move, widely criticized around the hockey world, eventually opened the floodgates for others to do the same.

The Minnesota Wild decided against wearing Pride-themed warmup jerseys before taking on the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. (Photo via Minnesota Wild)
The Minnesota Wild decided against wearing Pride-themed warmup jerseys before taking on the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. (Photo via Minnesota Wild)

Multiple teams took Provorov’s cue and followed suit. Later in January, the New York Rangers opted against wearing their Pride-themed warmup jersey. Then, less than two weeks later, the New York Islanders did the same due to a supposed “organizational stance”.

In Minnesota’s case, however, the means they chose to go about the process makes things even murkier. In addition to wearing the jerseys, the club had reportedly planned to auction them off as well — presumably to donate the proceeds to LGBTQIA+ causes. The auction, in combination with any mention of the jerseys from their website, were quietly scrubbed prior to puck drop, with no word from the team on the matter.

As for the team’s stance, the Wild released a statement on before puck drop, but neglected to directly acknowledge the jersey incident.

“The Minnesota Wild organization is proud to continue our support for the LGBTQIA+ community by hosting our second annual pride night tonight which we are celebrating in many ways,” the release reads. “It is important to host nights like this to show all players, fans, and the LGBTQIA+ community that hockey is for everyone.”