VOORHEES, N.J. – The National Hockey League has decided to ban all Pride-related equipment from team activities, but that doesn’t mean the Flyers’ Scott Laughton is going to abide by the new law.
He said as much after Wednesday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center.
This year’s Pride Night in Philadelphia is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024 when the Flyers play the Montreal Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center.
Based on the NHL’s recent ruling, which includes the banning of Pride tape on sticks, there’s a line drawn in the sand.
“You’ll probably see me with the Pride tape on that night,” said Laughton, an advocate of the LGBTQIA community. “I didn’t read if it was a ‘ban’ but I’ll probably have it on.”
Laughton, who wears the only letter (“A” for alternate captain) on the team, was instrumental in bringing Pride Night jerseys to Philadelphia.
But last year, former Flyer defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to wear the jersey in pre-game warm-ups, claiming it violated his Russian Orthodox religious beliefs. That was the first domino to fall. Soon after, the New York Rangers decided to cancel Pride Night at Madison Square Garden. Later, other teams followed suit.
Then, in the past couple days, the NHL added the aforementioned stick tape to the banned list. That particular action doesn’t sit well with open-minded players such as Laughton.
“Obviously I’m a little disappointed,” Laughton said in the hallway outside the Flyers’ locker room. “I did a ton of work with that community throughout the year. It’s a tough situation. I think it probably got a little too political last year with everything when you’re just trying to make it easy on people to come to games and feel welcome.
“I think everyone has a different upbringing and has different relationships throughout their life. I guess mine was a little different from everyone else, I got education on it a little bit sooner. And that’s why I do it.”
Laughton doesn’t know if the ban includes the locker room on game nights at the WFC as well as during practices, etc. at the FTC.
“I don’t know, that’s a good question,” said Laughton. “We’ll see what they say. It’s not going to affect the way I go about it. If they want to say something, they can. But it’s not going to make a difference on what I do every night for the Pride community.
“Especially that night, I think it’s such a great night to have people come out and support you. We’ll just go about it that way, use the tape and go about it that way.”
Only a handful of players chose not to be involved in Pride Night activities around the league last year yet now there’s an entirely new policy. What gives?
“I think time will tell,” Laughton said. “I know how far we’ve come in this game. One of it being the language. . .how it can affect people. I think our team does a great job of it. (We’re) very accepting. I think you will see a couple guys with it (Pride tape) on during the game.”
Laughton expects players from around the NHL to follow suit.
“I think so,” he said. “Everyone has their (own) relationship with it. If I didn’t have it, I don’t know where I’d be with that. It just got too political last year with everything. I think it went too far. That’s not really the point of it.
“It’s to make people feel welcome at the rink. If you have a closeted gay player in the room and you do some of the stuff, I wonder where it goes from there. That’s why you have those nights. It’s the education purpose of it and it’s their decision.”