Skip to main content


Insider Trading: NHL dealing with backlash from Pride Tape decision

Toronto Maple Leafs William Nylander William Nylander - The Canadian Press

Host Gino Reda and TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger discuss the NHL’s ban on rainbow-coloured Pride tape, William Nylander’s hopes of getting a deal done with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Vancouver Canucks working with Conor Garland on a trade, and more.

The NHL insists it is an inclusive league. That was called into question when they banned pride jerseys in warmups last June. And just before puck-drop on this season, word leaked out that Pride tape is now out as well. How does the league defend this stance?

Johnston: The way they'll defend it is by saying that all 32 teams are still going to do Pride nights, that players and teams both are encouraged to do lots of things to support these initiatives. And all that's really being restricted here is what they call "cause messaging" in practice and in games. But what I'll tell you as well is that this message hasn't been universally received well. I think the biggest thing as we look forward here is we're wondering, will any players challenge this and perhaps go ahead and put the Pride tape on their sticks the way many have been doing going back a number of seasons in the NHL? What I can tell you as well is that there was a three-page memo circulated to teams last week detailing all of this. What was not mentioned is that there would be any form of punishment or any specifics on punishment if a player were to go against the league's rule.

LeBrun: At the bottom of all this is that the NHL thought that what happened with the jerseys was going to happen with Pride tape - that this would become a media story, which players don't have Pride tape on their sticks and so on. Boy, you talk to people around the game today – such an overreach by the National Hockey League to make that determination on something like Pride tape that had become really part of the game and hockey culture. Now we'll see what the backlash is. We have not heard from the NHL Players' Association yet on this day. [Deputy Commissioner] Bill Daly from the NHL is on record as saying that the NHLPA signed off on what was going to happen here with this. So again, the league is saying that it strongly encourages that these [theme] nights continue. I know some teams that I've talked to are digging in and want to make sure that their Pride nights are better than ever, but it certainly sends a message, I think, to a lot of people that the NHL is backtracking at a time when it's the opposite [of what] it should be doing.

As the NHL regular season opens up, still no extension for [Toronto Maple Leafs forward] William Nylander, but can he take any solace from the type of deals we've seen handed out recently?

Dreger: The fact that general managers and these high-level players are meeting – it's not unusual for GM's and players to meet, especially when you're talking about important contract talks. Exhibit "A" would be Kevin Cheveldayoff from the Winnipeg Jets. Cheveldayoff met with both Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele during training camp just to make sure that they were aligned. And then, of course, you keep the agents in tune. You get into the heavy grinding before you reach a conclusion of the contract talks. Same thing applies to [general manager] Kevyn Adams, who met multiple times with Rasmus Dahlin before signing a mega extension with the Buffalo Sabres. And I know that Brad Treliving, the general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has met with William Nylander face-to-face, an important one-on-one, and there will be more in the near future.

LeBrun: Some positive vibes coming out of the William Nylander situation in the sense that Nylander [told] my colleague Jonas Siegel of The Athletic last week that he's told his agent, 'keep talking, don't worry about the season starting.' Unlike the last time he had a contract negotiation where he didn't want to have negotiations throughout the year. That won't be the case here. And while everyone involved in that Nylander negotiation has been extremely tight-lipped, what I can tell you from what I'm surmising is that everyone is on the same page as far as wanting to continue this dialogue and find that breakthrough and get that extension done for William Nylander. But there's no sense that it's imminent. I mean, honestly, whether it takes – a week or a month or the entire season, it could be all of the above.

Just over two years ago, the Canucks made a huge, ultimately disastrous deal to bring in Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland. They bought out OEL over the summer, and now Garland is a step closer to being moved out as well.

Johnston: We'll see if that's the case. I mean, this is a player the Canucks have made some overtures about moving in the past and haven't been able to do so. What's changed here in recent days is that Conor Garland has switched agents ... and his agent has permission to speak to other teams, and I know he's done so within the last 24 hours. It sounds like there are teams out there looking for maybe someone who can help out in a top-six in a scoring position. And so [his agent] is going to try to do what the Canucks haven't been able to do, and that's find a new landing place for Conor Garland. He's still got three years on his contract – a hair under $5 million per year on the cap hit. The Canucks know they're going to have to retain salary in order to get a deal done.

Dreger: Speaking of players on the trade block ... one of the primary names was [defenceman] Travis Sanheim of the Philadelphia Flyers. Well, obviously, he didn't get traded. His new contract extension kicks in. He's a big-money man, but he is heavily motivated. He came into camp with an extra 15 pounds of muscle, I'm told a wonderful attitude, no problem playing the off side. And now the Philadelphia Flyers likely consider this the best trade they never made. They want to build with Travis Sanheim as part of the group.