No flowers for Marc-André Fleury: As soon as once more, the NHL journeys over its personal stick

A possibility to rejoice Indigenous points and one of many league’s nice goalies in Marc-Andre Fleury as an alternative turns into one other public relations headache

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Final week, the NBA flexed its muscle groups and compelled Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball to slap a bandage on his neck to cowl up a tattoo whereas he performed. His offence: the pink, stylized ‘LF’ was thought-about a violation of the league coverage banning business logos or company insignia on physique or hair throughout video games.

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The 22-year-old has an attire firm LaFrancé — which additionally occurs to be his center title. However regardless of to the league; it was an “apparent” try to bypass the league coverage, however vastly totally different than the Nike swooshes and Jordan Jumpman tats that beautify the physique of dozens of NBA gamers.

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Eye roll, cued.

The week earlier than that, the NFL handed down a $10,927 nice to Buffalo Payments QB Josh Allen for the heinous motion of pointing at Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Nick Scott throughout a run into the tip zone. There was no flag on the play; the punishment was handed down retroactively by the league workplace.

Whereas that, in itself, was a joke — the non-funny, Arthur Fleck variety — the league then circled and used an image of Allen pointing in a social media publish to advertise the league.

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That publish was shortly ethered as its hypocrisy was instantly identified, however the league was had some rooster scat blended into the egg already on their face.

However the absolute winner of company knickers being twisted as soon as once more goes to the NHL, a sport performed with sticks and run by folks with sticks firmly lodged somewhere else.

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On Friday night time in Saint Paul, Minn., on Native American Heritage Evening, the NHL donned its company colonial serge and forbid Minnesota Wild goalie Marc-André Fleury from carrying a one-off masks he’d had painted to honour his spouse, Veronique, who’s of Abenaki and Mi’kmaq descent.

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Marc-Andre Fleury’s masks celebrating Indigenous tradition. The NHL threatened to nice Fleury and the Minnesota Wild if he wore the masks throughout final night time’s sport. Images: Minnesota Wild jpg

The league stated they’d considerably nice Fleury if he wore the masks, saying it violated coverage round particular initiatives. He basically stated, ‘nice — nice me,’ and deliberate to put on it in warmups earlier than the league amended their menace of a nice to incorporate the group.

As information of this hit the headlines, the blowback on the NHL was speedy and immense. Logic, normally in brief provide on social media, was Xeeted out left and proper.

Fleury known as the NHL’s bluff and wore the masks in warmups on Friday, however he was the backup and spent the sport parked on the bench.

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His masks was destined for the annual charity public sale the group holds together with the Prairie Island Indian Neighborhood, and bids on it it skyrocketed properly previous $15,000 by Saturday morning — far exceeding every other merchandise.

Fleury didn’t speak to reporters after the sport, and didn’t apply on Saturday, resulting from what the group stated was an sickness.

Will the league come down and dish out punishment on Fleury? That is still to be seen. However numerous studies have indicated that he’ll emerge, deservedly, unscathed.

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However this as soon as once more has laid naked the NHL’s picture subject and lack of ability to get out of its out manner.

It began final season when a number of NHL gamers refused to put on commemorative jerseys on Delight nights. Some cited their spiritual beliefs, others the potential violence they or their household may face again house in Russia.

Commissioner Gary Bettman’s elephant gun answer was to ban all commemorative jerseys, in essence scrapping any worthy trigger from being celebrated.

These superb, eye-popping Vancouver Canucks Diwali or Chinese language Lunar New 12 months kits? You’ll now not see any gamers put on them on the ice.

Bettman popped one other .577 cartridge in his Nitro Categorical and prolonged the ban to Delight-themed warmup tape this season, solely to get trampled by the backlash when Arizona’s Travis Dermott defied his orders, and he was in the end pressured to raise the restriction.

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I agree that nobody ought to be pressured to partake in an initiative they don’t imagine in or agree with. Don’t need to put on a rainbow jersey on Delight night time? Positive. Don’t need to don a camouflage jersey for Salute the Vets? OK. However not less than be capable to articulate your motive why, and have the conviction to face behind it.

Which is the alternative of what the NHL has finished. While the NHL was threatening Fleury with a giant stick in a single hand, it was patting Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky on the again with the opposite for his lavender Hockey Fights Most cancers masks. Identical for Seattle Kraken netminder Philipp Grubauer.

It was a pick-and-choose, mealymouthed method.

Mdewakanton Dakota artist Cole Redhorse Taylor, who designed the masks for Fleury, watched as issues unfolded Friday with a way of disbelief .

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“What they don’t notice is … they’re being racist in direction of Indigenous peoples with out deliberately doing so,” Taylor instructed the Toronto Star’s Mark Colley.

“We had been exiled from our homelands. My ancestors had been executed for defending our rights to exist … That’s one thing that I really feel numerous establishments actually don’t take into consideration once they should make these actually exhausting choices.”

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Marc-Andre Fleury’s masks celebrating Indigenous tradition. The NHL threatened to nice Fleury and the Minnesota Wild if he wore the masks throughout final night time’s sport. Images: Minnesota Wild jpg

Possibly that’s the difficulty. Bettman and Co. don’t suppose. They react. Anybody with a lick of frequent sense may have seen this as a chance as an alternative of an affront.

Or possibly that’s the purpose. The league always boasts about its efforts to be extra inclusive and numerous, but it surely has repeatedly proven it’s not as versatile and accepting because it claims to be.

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Possibly we should always begin listening to the true message they’re sending once they do issues like banning an indigenous masks, as an alternative of those that come on NHL letterheads.

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@jjadams.bsky.social

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