Colorado Avalanche: What Would Make A Good Pride Night?

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 18: Colin Wilson #22 of the Colorado Avalanche heads back to the locker room after warm ups prior to the game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Pepsi Center on February 18, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 18: Colin Wilson #22 of the Colorado Avalanche heads back to the locker room after warm ups prior to the game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Pepsi Center on February 18, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

With Hockey Is For Everyone month approaching what can the Colorado Avalanche do to make their Pride Night successful?

The Colorado Avalanche do not have a great track record when it comes to their annual Pride Night. Last year’s was barely an event at all, and I hope that the organisation can learn from that and grow.

As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I have a vested interest in seeing Pride Night done well. Hockey is not exactly known for embracing the diverse. The players, coaching staff and management are by and large white, male and heterosexual. Even with the initiative from the NHL to have a month dedicated to inclusivity some teams in the go all in, but others do the bare minimum and sometimes even less than that.

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I honestly find the whole thing quite baffling. With various events and theme nights throughout the year why is this the one that gets ignored? If I were to hazard a guess I’d say that teams don’t want to rock the boat. But, the thing is, change doesn’t happen unless you do exactly that. Hockey will never be for everyone unless every team in the NHL makes it clear that that’s what they want.

There are a few simple things the Avalanche could do to elevate their Pride Night and show their fans that they do actually care and want to welcome and include them.

Promote the Event

It sounds obvious, but Hockey Is For Everyone month starts in just over two weeks and we still don’t know when the Avalanche are holding their Pride night. It doesn’t need to be a fanfare from the ramparts kind of announcement but sharing the date gives fans time to plan and purchase their tickets. At this moment in time there’s nothing about it on the team’s events page, just a listing for Date Night on Feb 13th. It’s difficult to demonstrate how popular an event is if no one knows about it.

Make Pride Night About Pride

Hockey Is For Everyone has a whole month dedicated to it. There is no need for teams to have an all encompassing Hockey Is For Everyone night that they use to blanket cover all minority groups. It does a disservice to everyone if they all have to share the spotlight in order to be awarded a few crumbs. Spread things out over the month and have a few different nights for different groups. Show people that they matter and aren’t just being used to fulfill the minimum requirements set out by the NHL.

Talk to the LGBTQ Community

It’s easy enough for me to sit here in the UK and make suggestions for what the team could do to improve their Pride night, but the people they should be talking to and listening to are the people they claim to want to support. Talk to the local LGBTQ community, ask them what you can do to help them, ask them what you can do to make hockey more inclusive both for players and for spectators. Listening is such an important part of making any event successful, and it’s even more important when you’re representing a minority group. Bring LGBTQ youth to the game, show them that hockey can be a fun and inclusive experience.

Use Your Words

The biggest way to reduce stigma, as with any initiative, is to talk about it. Get the players to talk about the importance of You Can Play, about the people they’ve met while talking to members of the LGBTQ community. Get the players to outright say that homophobia has no place in hockey. I cannot stress the importance of that last point enough. Homophobia will continue to be prevalent in hockey as long as people don’t openly speak out against it. Get the players to talk about it in the pregame, intermission and postgame interviews. Show the people watching that this is a cause that matters to them.

In  short: Be more like Mark Borowiecki

Cover The Spectrum

Pride night should be more than just an event for gay and lesbian members of the community. There are other letters under the LGBTQ umbrella and they should be included too. Pride isn’t just about who people love, it’s about gender identity as well. Trans people are among the most harassed and vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community. Include them, show them they are valid and welcome.

Offer Support

Recently the New Jersey Devils held their Pride night and featured a video about a young trans player. They closely monitored the comments and hid anything that was hateful or bigoted. No, this is not ‘censorship’ or the denial of free speech, it’s about protecting the members of our community who need words of support not words of hatred. Trans youth have among the highest suicide rates of any minority group and we have a responsibility to show them that this is a safe environment for them.

Make Pride Tape or Pride Jerseys Mandatory During Warmups

This may seem a little extreme, but none of the other theme nights are optional. Every single player wears the themed jersey on Military Appreciation Night, or Hockey Fights Cancer Night. Why is Pride night any different? Players being given the choice about whether to participate or not it sends the message that supporting the LGBTQ community isn’t as important.

I’m sure the argument will be made that players shouldn’t be forced to support something they don’t believe in. Well, here’s a newsflash. Being LGBTQ isn’t a ‘lifestyle choice’. It’s just something that you are. Whether someone believes in it or not is irrelevant. Saying you don’t believe in the LGBTQ ‘lifestyle’ is like saying you don’t believe in people with red hair.

If players have to support the military regardless of their feelings on the matter, they can wear a Pride jersey or use Pride tape for 20 minutes for one game.

After last year’s lackluster Pride night I’m not expecting any miracles this year. Even if the team takes on just some of the suggestions outlined here it will be a huge step in the right direction.

dark. Next. Colorado Avalanche Were A Positive Presence At Denver Pride

I will say that despite the incredibly disappointing Pride night the team did make up for it a little with their attendance at Denver Pride last year. I hope that’s a sign that the organisation is moving forward but only time will tell.