Starting in the 2023-24 season, NHL teams will no longer wear specialty jerseys during warmups for themed nights. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the decision following the league’s Board of Governors meeting.
This decision from the NHL comes after a season that was filled with how various Pride nights were handled across the league. Some individual players refused to wear the warmup jerseys, and several teams chose not to wear an LGBTQ-themed warmup jersey at all.
Immediately following the meeting, Bettman spoke with Sportsnet about the decision. Bettman said the debate about the jerseys became more of a “distraction.” He also suggested that nixing the jerseys would put more focus onto the nights themselves.
“Actually, 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 our clubs, in some form or another, 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.”
Bettman acknowledged the jerseys can make fans the LGBTQ community feel more included and that the NHL made this decision during Pride month but re-emphasized his opinion that the jerseys had become a distraction.
“Those are legitimate concerns, but in the final analysis, all of the efforts and emphasis on these important various causes have been undermined by the distraction in terms of which teams and which players (are wearing them),” Bettman said. “This way, we can keep it focused on the game. On these specialty nights, we’re going to be focused on the cause.”
Bettman said that Pride nights — and all specialty nights — are here to stay in the NHL. The only change will be that players no longer wear themed jerseys in warmups.
“Absolutely, 32 of our clubs did Pride nights. Some do Heritage nights,” Bettman said. “Everyone does Hockey Fights Cancer. Some do military nights. All of those nights will continue. The only issue will be — or the only difference will be — we aren’t going to change jerseys for warmups because really that has become more of a distraction from the essence of what the purposes of these nights are.”
The discussion around NHL Pride nights began when then-Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov chose not to wear the team’s warmup jersey for religious reasons. Throughout the rest of the season, Eric Staal, Marc Staal, and James Reimer sat out Pride Night warmups for the same reason.
Several NHL teams chose not to wear special warmup jerseys at all because of new Russian anti-gay laws that may have put players from that country in jeopardy if they promoted pro-LGBTQ causes. Teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, and San Jose Sharks chose to go ahead with Pride Night warmup jerseys despite having Russian players in the lineup.
The Nashville Predators have traded center Ryan Johansen to the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced on Saturday. In return, the Predators will receive forward Alex Galchenyuk, who is set to become a free agent on July 1.
As part of the deal, the Predators will also retain 50% of Johansen’s $8 million salary cap hit over the next two seasons. Nashville retained a portion of Mattias Ekholm’s salary after trading him to the Edmonton Oilers prior to the 2023 trade deadline, so the team can retain salary on just one more player after the Johansen deal.
This move provides the Avalanche with the second-line center that they were missing for much of the 2022-23 season. When Nazem Kadri signed with the Calgary Flames last summer, that left a void in Colorado’s lineup, and Johansen should slot into that role at just $4 million per year, which is a reasonable gamble to make.
Johansen is just a couple years removed from his 2021-22 campaign in which he recorded 26 goals and 37 assists for 63 points in 79 games. Last season, Johansen’s production dipped to 28 points in 55 games, and he suffered a season-ending leg injury on Feb. 21. He should be back in time for the start of the 2023-24 season.
For the Predators, this trade frees up $4 million in salary cap space and gets a big contract off the books, at least partially. Nashville has entered a rebuilding mode, and the team has traded some big names in the last few months, like Ekholm and Mikael Granlund. Johansen played eight seasons with the Preds and played the role of No. 1 center in their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017.
Galchenyuk, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, failed to record a point in 11 games with the Avs last season.
Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP during the NHL Awards ceremony on Monday. McDavid edged out the likes of Boston Bruins star David Pastrnak and Florida Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk to win the award.
It marks the third time (2016-17 & 2020-21) that McDavid has won the Hart Trophy in his eight-year NHL career. It’s also the third time in four seasons in which an Oilers player has earned MVP honors. Leon Draisaitl won the Hart Trophy during the 2019-20 campaign while McDavid captured the league MVP in the 2020-21 season.
McDavid racked up a career-high 153 points (64 goals & 89 assists) during the 2022-23 season. The Oilers star produced the highest point total since former Pittsburgh Penguins legend Mario Lemieux had 161 points in 1995-96.
The Oilers forward led the league in points, goals and assists while ranking second in power-play goals (21) only behind Draisaitl. McDavid had never produced more than 123 points in a single season, which he racked up during the 2021-22 campaign.
After just eight NHL seasons, McDavid already has the fifth-most points (850) in franchise history behind only Wayne Gretzky (1,669), Jari Kurri (1,043), Mark Messier (1,034), and Glenn Anderson (906). McDavid could likely pass Messier for the third spot on the Oilers’ all-time points list next season.
McDavid wasn’t the only player to take home some hardware on Monday evening. Here are the rest of the NHL Award winners:
Vezina Trophy: Linus Ullmark (Boston Bruins) The Boston Bruins had the best regular season in NHL history as they amassed 135 points. Goaltender Linus Ullmark was a big reason why and received some validation when he won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender.
Ullmark topped Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets and Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders to win the prestigious award.
Ullmark became the fifth goaltender in Bruins history to win the Vezina Trophy and the first since 2014 when Tuukka Rask earned the honor. Pete Peeters became the first Bruins goaltender to win the award in 1983 while Tim Thomas earned the honor in both 2009 and 2011.
Ullmark had a phenomenal regular season as he tied the Bruins’ single-season wins record (40) while also posting a league-leading 1.89 goals-against-average and .938 save percentage in 49 games (48 starts). The 29-year-old also had a pair of shutouts throughout the year as he helped lead the Bruins to an NHL record 135 points alongside fellow goaltender Jeremy Swayman.
Norris Trophy: Erik Karlsson (San Jose Sharks) Erik Karlsson became just the second player in San Jose Sharks history to win the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman. Karlsson won the award over Adam Fox of the New York Rangers and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche.
Karlsson joins Brent Burns (2016-17) as the only two players in Sharks history to win the Norris Trophy.
Karlsson became the first defenseman to top the 100-point mark in a season since former Rangers blue-liner Brian Leetch reached that plateau with 102 points during the 1991-92 campaign. The Sharks defenseman finished the 2022-23 season with 101 points (25 goals & 76 assists) in 82 games.
In addition, Karlsson’s 76 assists were tied for third in the league behind only Connor McDavid (89) and Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov (83). He accomplished that while playing for a Sharks team that earned the fourth-fewest points (60) in the NHL.
Calder Trophy: Matty Beniers (Seattle Kraken) Matty Beniers has become the first player in Seattle Kraken history to earn some major hardware. Beniers won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie on Monday as he earned the honor over Buffalo Sabres defenseman and former University of Michigan teammate Owen Power and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner.
Beniers finished the regular season with 57 points (24 goals & 33 assists), which was fourth on the team. The 2021 No. 2 pick led all NHL rookies in the point department as he edged out Arizona Coyotes forward Mason Matias Maccelli (49) and Anaheim Ducks forward Mason MacTavish (43) for the league lead.
Selke Trophy: Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins) For the second consecutive season, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has won the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward. Bergeron beat out New Jersey Devils forward Nico Hischier and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner for the honor.
It marks the sixth career Selke Trophy for Bergeron, who has spent all 19 seasons of his career as a member of the Bruins. Bergeron also won the award three times over four seasons, spanning from 2012 to 2015. The 37-year-old blocked 54 shots while forcing 38 turnovers in 78 games this season.
Jack Adams Award: Jim Montgomery (Boston Bruins) Sensing a pattern here? The Bruins had a historic season, which means that they won the majority of the regular-season awards at the league’s ceremony.
Considering that the team racked up an NHL record 135 points, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery took home the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top head coach. Montgomery topped the likes of Dave Hakstol of the Seattle Kraken and Lindy Ruff of the New Jersey Devils. This marked Montgomery’s third season as an NHL head coach and his first with the Bruins.
Ted Lindsay Award: Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) Connor McDavid won his second award of the night as he took home the Ted Lindsay Award. McDavid beat out San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak to earn the honor.
The Ted Lindsay Award is handed out to the NHL’s most outstanding player as voted on by his peers. This marks the fourth time that the Oilers star has won the Ted Lindsay Award during his professional career. McDavid shattered his previous career-high in goals (64) after never having more than 44 in a single season.
Lady Byng Trophy: Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings) Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar won the Lady Byng Trophy for displaying the best sportsmanship in the league. Kopitar edged out New Jersey Devils star Jack Hughes and Tampa Bay Lightning star Brayden Point to win the award as he earned 77 first-place votes.
The award is given to the player that was “adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
It’s the second time that Kopitar has taken home the Lady Byng Trophy as he won the award following the 2015-16 season. Kopitar is coming off of a season in which he registered a team-high 74 points (28 goals & 46 assists) in his 17th NHL season. He led his team in scoring for the 15th time in his career, which is the third-most in NHL history behind only Wayne Gretzky (19 times) and Gordie Howe (17 times).
Bill Masterton Trophy: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang won the Bill Masterton Trophy as he edged Arizona Coyotes star Clayton Keller and Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock. The award is given to the player that “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”
During the 2022-23 season, Letang suffered the second stroke of his NHL career in November 2022, but returned to the ice just 12 days later. The veteran defenseman also lost his father, Claude Fouquet, and Letang was forced to be away from the team in order to mourn the horrific loss. Letang became the first Penguins player to win the Bill Masterton Trophy since Mario Lemieux won the award in 1993 following being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma that season.