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October 11, 2023

Flyers' Scott Laughton says he'll still use Pride Tape in the wake of the NHL's ban on it

Scott Laughton, a longtime supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, told PHLY he'll still probably use Pride Tape following word that the NHL put a ban on it.

The NHL put a ban on Pride and other specialty-themed warm-up jerseys from being worn on the ice going forward over the summer, and before the puck dropped on the 2023-24 season on Tuesday, it was discovered that the ban also extends to the rainbow-colored Pride Tape used on sticks as well. 

But none of that is likely to stop Scott Laughton when the Flyers host their annual Pride Night on January 10. 

“You’ll probably see me with the Pride Tape on that night,” the veteran forward said Wednesday (via PHLY's Charlie O'Connor). “I don’t know, I didn’t read really what it said, if it’s a ban or something, but I’ll probably have it on.

“We’ll see what they say, but it’s not gonna affect the way I go about it. If they want to say something, they can.”

Laughton, who is about to enter his 11th season with the team, has long been a prominent supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and a driving force behind the Flyers' outreach initiatives toward it alongside former teammate James van Riemsdyk – of which has included the donation of tickets to local LGBTQ+ organizations, financial efforts to grow the game of hockey throughout the community, and the hosting of a non-binary youth player and their family in celebration of the team's Pride Night from last January. 

Pride Nights across the NHL, however, became sources of politicization and polarization last season when a handful of players opted to sit out their team's warm-ups so they wouldn't have to wear the Pride-themed jerseys. The trend started with Ivan Provorov right here in Philadelphia and included current Flyers defenseman Marc Staal while he was with the Florida Panthers.

The NHL later decided to do away with Pride and specialty-themed warm-up jerseys in the offseason altogether, with league commissioner Gary Bettman citing that the growing focus on which players did or didn't wear the jerseys had become "a distraction."

The ban doesn't bar teams from continuing to host specialty-themed nights, like Pride, military appreciation, or Hockey Fights Cancer – all of which are on the Flyers' schedule this season – nor did it take away their abilities to still produce those jerseys to sell or auction off for charity. 

But it did restrict how teams' and players' gear can look on any of those given nights, which – as Outsports first reported and then was confirmed by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly – now extends to the rainbow-striped tape that had become commonplace for players during all of those Pride Nights festivities.

Pride Tape, the non-profit manufacturer of the stick tape, and the You Can Play Project, an LGBTQ+ sports activism campaign that Laughton is an ambassador of, have since issued statements expressing disappointment in the league's decision. 

And NHL players, like the Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Reilly, stressed that they'll continue to find other ways to support the community in the wake of the league's Pride Tape ban.

Laughton will be among that group.

“I’ll use the tape – if I have to buy it myself, I will. Go about it that way,” he told O'Connor

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