Edmonton Oilers celebrate LGBTQ community

The Edmonton Oilers take on the Seattle Kraken at Rogers Place Thursday, but the game isn’t just about getting two more points.

The Edmonton Oilers are hosting the annual “Celebrating Pride” game in support of the LGBTQ community.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Oilers in support of NHL Pride Night'
Edmonton Oilers in support of NHL Pride Night

“We are looking forward to celebrating the Pride community in Oil County and shining a spotlight on community leaders who are shifting the paradigm of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Tim Shipton with the Oilers Entertainment Group Sports and Entertainment.

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“Whether it’s the Pride Cup, Oilers and Oil Kings Pride Games, helping to launch Pride Tape right here in Edmonton, or continued community investment and partnerships, OEGSE will always stand alongside the 2SLGBTQ+ community as friends, allies and partners — and will always do our best to ensure everyone feels welcome and included in Rogers Place and ICE District.”

There has been some controversy surrounding Pride night events in the National Hockey League.

The NHL decided in June 2023 not to allow team members to wear any theme jerseys for warmups after a handful of players opted out of team Pride nights.

The Chicago Blackhawks did not have players wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys for their Pride night last season. The team said they acted out concern for the safety of their Russian players because of an anti-gay law in that country.

Click to play video: 'NHL faces controversy over Pride Nights'
NHL faces controversy over Pride Nights

Other NHL players including the Staal brothers, San Jose’s James Reimer, and Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov did not take part in Pride night warmups due to their religious beliefs.

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Back in March 2023, the Staal brothers released a statement explaining their decision.

“We carry no judgement on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey,” Eric and Marc Staal said in a statement. “Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a Pride jersey, it goes against our Christian beliefs.”

The NHL later rescinded its ban on players using stick tape to support social causes, including rainbow Pride Tape.

Click to play video: 'NHL jersey controversy: LGBTQ2 communities fear hockey league giving into hostilities'
NHL jersey controversy: LGBTQ2 communities fear hockey league giving into hostilities

On Thursday, Rogers Place will be filled with Pride colours. The Oilers will sport Pride Tape during warmup. The Oilers Orange and Blue Ice Crew will also wear special pride-themed attire.

Before the national anthem is sung by Robert Clark, a member of the LGBTQ community, the Edmonton Oilers will introduce community leaders who have worked to make Edmonton a more inclusive place.

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Funds raised in the 50/50 will go to MacEwan University’s Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity (CSGD).

“With support from Oil Country, the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and the CSGD can help ensure students are supported and treated equally on campus and in the community,” said Corey Smith, board chair of the EOCF.

Dr. Kristopher Wells was one of the founding members of Pride Tape, which is now used by all 32 teams in the NHL. He has been working with the Oilers for more than a decade.

“Together, we’ve marched in Pride parades, hosted Pride nights, launched the Pride Cup, and supported important community groups like Pride Tape, Edmonton Inclusive Hockey Association, Outloud and the MacEwan Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity,” said Wells, director of the MacEwan Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

“This year is extra special as we are thrilled to see Pride Tape back in the NHL — and more visible than ever — thanks to the strong support of the Edmonton Oilers, players and fans from across the world.”

Click to play video: 'NHL player Kurtis Gabriel aims to make the league more welcoming for LGBTQ community'
NHL player Kurtis Gabriel aims to make the league more welcoming for LGBTQ community

Oilers’ alumni Craig MacTavish and Ben Scrivens will spend time celebrating with fans ahead of the game. The pair will take pictures at the Pride Tape booth in Ford Hall from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

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The Edmonton Oilers are hoping to win their 12th game in a row Thursday night. Right now, they have franchise-record 11-game winning streak.

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