The Philadelphia Flyers hosted their annual pride night Tuesday night against the Anaheim Ducks. Much to the surprise of many of the LGBTQIA+ fans, the organization stepped up their game this season when it came to their effort for pride night.
Let’s take a look back at last season’s pride night effort and compare it to this season’s.
The 2022 pride night official press release lineup
- Flyers players will use warm-up sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape prior to puck drop, and player sticks will be auctioned off by Flyers Charities following the game
- Flyers Charities will present the You Can Play Project with a check for $5,000 to support their work in the greater Philadelphia region to ensure the safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports
- Flyers Charities will also be selling Pride-inspired commemorative tickets
- LGBTQ+ community leader, and PhillyChitChat founder HughE Dillon will bang the drum as part of the Flyer’s Bring the Noise ceremony
- The Flyers will also celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Philly Gay News (PGN), opening the game with a ceremonial puck drop with Philly Gay News Founder Mark Segal
- Laughton and van Riemsdyk will provide four game tickets to select local LGBTQ+ organizations for 12 home games during the rest of the 2021-2022 season. In addition to the tickets, the players will provide these special guests with Flyers gear and a signed puck. The two players also recorded a PSA-style video to remind fans of the importance of inclusivity in hockey.
The 2023 pride night official press release lineup
- Prior to the game, Flyers players will wear special Pride-themed warmup jerseys and use warm-up sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape. Both the jerseys and sticks will be auctioned off by Flyers Charities following the game
- Also before the game, the Flyers will host a pre-game skate for local LGBTQ+ youth and officers from the Greater Philadelphia G.O.A.L organization. Following the skate, attendees will enjoy the game as guests of the Flyers. Post-game, James van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton will host a meet and greet with the guests.
- To kick off the night, Trin Stephens, a local Ed Snider Youth Hockey and Education student-athlete, will bang the ceremonial drum
- Last year, van Riemsdyk and Laughton launched a program in support of local LGBTQ+ youth in the Greater Philadelphia area. They’ve continued the program by providing four game tickets to local LGBTQ+ organizations for 20 home games during the 2022-2023 season. In addition to the tickets, the players will provide these special guests with Flyers gear and a signed puck.
- Flyers Charities will present Greater Philadelphia G.O.A.L. with a check for $5,000 to support their work within the LGBTQ+ community.
- Flyers Charities will also be selling special Pride Night autographed mystery pucks for $35 throughout the evening.
- Through the team’s Community Ticket Grant Program, the Flyers will also provide complimentary tickets for the Pride Night game to the following LGBTQ+ organizations:
- Attic Youth Center
- Independence Business Alliance
- Mazzoni Center
- Philadelphia Falcons
- Philadelphia FIGHT
- Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus,
- William Way LGBTQ Community Center
That, boys and girls, is called progress.
The biggest criticism really boils down to the simple things. Changing their profile picture to a pride-themed logo wasn’t done tonight, and it also wasn’t done during pride month back in June. They did far more behind the scenes this season, but ignoring the absolute basic slow pitches is baffling.
The Washington Capitals, who also had their pride night Tuesday, handled themselves much better on social media, posting conversation starters and various education tips about pronouns and terminology. It’s a very important step that sprinkles in the seriousness behind the theme night and shuts down the hateful responses some leave on posts celebrating the occasion.
The Hockey News writer Ian Kennedy dove into some Twitter analytics back in June for pride month, and the Flyers failed pretty badly. The Flyers didn’t change their profile picture on any of their social media accounts to a pride theme. They were also the team with the most negative comments on the few pride posts they made, pushing their pride party at Liberty Point.
The “Cocktails for a Cause” event was a city-wide initiative that made donations through fancy colored alcoholic beverages. The Flyers joined FCM Hospitality to represent orange and $1 dollar from every drink went to four local LGBTQ+ orgs (William Way LGBT Center, Attic Youth Center, Philly Asian Queer and Galaei) and Flyers Charities would match any donation up to $10,000. FCM Hospitality raised $5,022 in the month-long effort, but Flyers Charities did announce that each organization would receive $2,500 from their end as well.
The Flyers followed up their online silence during pride month by acquiring Tony DeAngelo during the offseason. It’s well documented everyone’s favorite little Capitol stormer is a big fan of using every slur in the book and made his MAGA affiliation his entire identity, as is the common theme when your parents are cousins. It casts a shade of doubt in their legitimate interest in a pride night, sparked further by their disingenuous efforts last season.
Now, the business side of the organization didn’t get a say in the move the hockey ops department made, but it’s a fairly well known fact that Tony D is a controversial figure and for a team that doesn’t have much good grace from the fans. So in a sense, it’s a good sign that the Flyers went harder for pride night this season to combat the bad taste in the mouths of the LGBTQ community who were offended by the carelessness of the move to begin with.
Ironically enough, DeAngelo bit the bullet and wore the warmup jersey (but no pride tape). It was Ivan Provorov who sat out warmups to avoid supporting the cause.
In a sense, you gotta feel for the Flyers’ organization on this one. They actually assemble a pride night that is at acceptable level then Provorov draws nationwide backlash for his actions. They probably should’ve scratched him for the game, it was the best thing they could’ve done to protect their own asses when the media got wind of the situation, but really, it was a bad look that was going to cause waves regardless. John Tortorella doubling down in his defense of Provorov was unnecessary and added more fuel to the fire.
The Flyers finally do something right by nailing pride night and still walk away in a negative light. The bad luck never stops coming for the franchise.
The Flyers are spending millions of dollars on upgrades to the Wells Fargo Center. The new shops and high-end food choices are made in the name of “fan experience.” Though I’d argue the best way to build a better experience is by leaning into theme nights instead of doing them under duress.
More and more teams across the league are taking not only pride night, but various other community initiatives, more seriously. Lunar new year, indigenous peoples day, hispanic heritage, Japanese heritage and more. It’s no longer one or two teams going all out for theme nights, it’s becoming the baseline across the league. This year was a good start, but always look to get better and make these night can’t-miss extravaganzas. Only good things will come from it. Don’t spend the entire yearly “fun nights” budget on Star Wars.
Last season, there was a relatively ugly spat between myself and members of the Flyers front office after questioning their efforts for pride night. It led to one of the most heated rants in Brotherly Pod history where the demands to better their efforts were laid out. And, being a fair man, they did a significantly better job this season when it comes to respecting the LGBTQ+ community. There’s more they could’ve done, and certainly more growth before they’re in the same realm as the Devils, Kraken, Penguins or Golden Knights, but it was a night that was actively better than last season. For this organization to take any step forward in any facet is relatively big news these days, especially for a theme night that has been overlooked in the past.
Congratulations, Flyers, you did good this year. Now continue to get better for next year.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com