The Washington Capitals will wear specialty jerseys for the first time this season ahead of their November 18 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Capitals are hosting Hockey Fights Cancer night at Capital One Arena.
But the Capitals will not rock their typical lavender colored jerseys on the ice during warmups. They will wear them on their way to the locker room. This comes after an offseason decree from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman forbidding specialty jerseys on the ice and limiting personal expression of players.
The Capitals will still auction off the jerseys. Bidding opens Saturday, November 18 at 6 pm and closes at 3 pm on Tuesday, November 28.
Per a Capitals PR press release:
Capitals players will arrive to the Capitals Hockey Fights Cancer game wearing Hockey Fights Cancer themed jerseys. Preview Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation’s Capitals Hockey Fights Cancer Auction featuring the autographed jerseys now at washcaps.com/hfcauction. The auction will open for bidding at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 and also includes autographed Hockey Fights Cancer pucks as well as player portraits drawn by children affiliated with the nonprofit Tracy’s Kids, which uses art therapy to help young cancer patients and their families cope with the emotional stress imposed by the disease and its treatment. The artwork will be displayed on the jumbotron during the game.
Proceeds benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Dare to Dream Project, Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and MSE Foundation. The player portraits will directly benefit Tracy’s Kids.
The change regarding wearing specialty jerseys — even for causes as universally supported as cancer research — comes after a handful of players sat out of warmups last season to avoid wearing Pride jerseys.
The controversy began when Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to wear the Flyers’ Pride Night jersey, citing his Russian Orthodoxy. The New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Minnesota Wild later all announced they would not wear Pride jerseys, despite earlier promises from the Rangers and Wild to do so. Sharks goaltender James Reimer cited objections stemming from Christian values when he sat out of warmups for the San Jose Sharks, as did the Florida Panthers’ Marc and Eric Staal.
The Chicago Blackhawks canceled plans to wear Pride jerseys over concerns for the safety of Russian players and their families. The Sabres’ Ilya Lybushkin similarly expressed concerns of retaliation from Russia when he chose not to participate. The Leafs’ Ilya Samsonov did the same with similar justification.
In response, the league decided to take the option completely off the table instead of taking a stand.
“I’ve suggested that it would be appropriate for clubs not to change their jerseys in warmups because it’s become a distraction and taking away from the fact that all of our clubs in some form or other host nights in honor of various groups or causes,” Bettman said. “We’d rather those continue to get the appropriate attention that they deserve and not be a distraction.”
Teams and players have the freedom to wear “whatever they want” off the ice as long as it falls “within the guidelines of each team’s respective dress code” per an NHL memo.
Washington’s game on Saturday will be the first time the Capitals will be impacted by the league’s new rules.
While the rules seem clear cut, there remains some confusion. Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is wearing a lavender-colored mask for Hockey Fights Cancer Month.
Bob’s new Hockey Fights Cancer mask is a stunner 💜
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) November 8, 2023
Meanwhile, the Hockey News reported that Vegas Golden Knights goalie Logan Thompson was rebuffed by the NHL when he asked if he could put a cancer ribbon on his helmet design.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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