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The controversial reason Blackhawks won't wear green St. Patrick's Day jerseys this season

Here's why the NHL has done away with theme-night warmup jerseys

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The longstanding tradition of NHL teams wearing green warmup jerseys for St. Patrick's Day has come to an end.

In the 2023 offseason, Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league's Board of Governors agreed that theme-night jerseys would be banned indefinitely for all 32 teams.

For clarity, all 32 teams will continue to host themed nights, including Pride Night, military appreciation and Hockey Fights Cancer. The only difference is teams will no longer don themed sweaters during warmups. The Blackhawks' St. Patrick Day celebration will take place at the United Center on Friday, March 15 and Sunday, March 17. The green St. Patrick's Day jerseys are still available for purchase on the Blackhawks online shop, along with Pride Night, military appreciation and Hockey Fights Cancer specialty jerseys.

The decision was made after seven individual players last season refused to wear Pride-themed gear such as rainbow jerseys on their teams' respective Pride Night celebrations. Several teams last season, including the Chicago Blackhawks, scrapped the Pride Night warmup sweater altogether in what may have been an effort to shield individual players from public scrutiny. A few players cited religion as their reason for declining to wear the jerseys, while others cited Russian anti-gay laws as the reason for the decision.

In an interview with Sportsnet, Bettman suggested the purpose of supporting LGBTQ+ causes through themed Pride Nights had been overshadowed by discourse over players who refused to participate.

"It's taking away from the fact that all of our clubs, in some form or another, host nights in honor of various groups or causes," Bettman said in June 2023. "And we'd rather them continue to get the appropriate attention that they deserve and not be a distraction.

"All the efforts and emphasis on the importance of these various causes have been undermined by the distraction in terms of which teams, which players. This way, we're keeping the focus on the game. And on these specialty nights, we're going to be focused on the cause.

"You know what our goals, our values and our intentions are across the league, whether it's at the league level or at the club level. But we also have to respect some individual choice, and some people are more comfortable embracing themselves in causes than others. And part of being diverse and welcoming is understanding those differences."

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