NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman revealed Thursday that all 32 franchises not wearing special themed pre-match warm-up jerseys next season.
Bettman presented the idea at the annual Board of Governors meeting in New York, suggesting it would eliminate any distractions from players refusing to participate in Pride Nights after seven skaters chose not to last season.
The decision will also affect other notable events, including military recognition, cancer hockey and St. Patrick’s Day. These procedures as well as Pride Night will, however, continue in each respective arena despite the removal of pre-match sweaters.
Bettman believes these changes will help focus attention on individual causes rather than potential controversies that would distract from them.
“I suggested that it would be appropriate for clubs not to change shirts during warm-ups as it becomes a distraction,” Bettman told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Thursday.
“All the effort and emphasis on the importance of these different causes has been undermined by distraction in terms of which teams, which players. This way, we stay focused on the game. And during these specialized evenings, we will focus on the cause.
All 32 teams hosted a “Pride” or “Hockey is for Everyone” night during the 2022-23 season, and are expected to do so again next year.
Pride jerseys, in particular, became a hot topic after Philadelphia’s victory. Ivan Provorov became the first skater to refuse to wear the rainbow sweater, citing religion. James Reimer and Mark and Eric Staal also chose not to participate due to their religious beliefs.