The Minnesota Wild hosted the Arizona Coyotes on February 8, and wound up going down 4-3, in overtime.
They might've lost more than just a hockey game. Namely: some gay and lesbian fans, who think the franchise failed to deliver on a night that was supposed to appeal specifically to LGBTQ puckheads.
As reported by Outsports, the leading online publication for the intersection of athltics and non-heterosexuality, the Wild's "Hockey is for Everyone" inclusion night was part of a league-wide initiative. Fans were able to buy discounted tickets, with a portion of proceeds (10 percent) going to Twin Cities Pride.
And some certainly took them up on that offer, though one came away thinking the franchise "will take our money but refuse to recognize us."
Indeed, the sole reference to the night's theme was that a few Wild players wielded sticks adorned with "Pride Tape" during pregame warm-up, though even those players ditched those sticks for the acutal game.
And then during the contest, they... didn't do anything else. "Literally... nothing... compared to other NHL teams" holding "Hockey is for Everyone" nights, as one fan complained. Another says the team doesn't put any LGBTQ-themed merchandise on its shelves -- though, per Outsports, they do have some in stock -- and have "never participated in a pride parade."
She singled out Charlie Coyle, the team's "You Can Play Ambassador," for having "done absolutely nothing in the [LGBTQ] community, ever."
Wild spokesman Aaron Sickman tells Outsports the lack of recognition during the February 8 game wasn't the team's fault: The Wild went looking for an organization that specifically worked to increase access or participation among LGBTQ hockey players. They couldn't find one.
Sickman did offer the following statement, which sounds like it could be dusted off for virtually any occasion:
"The Minnesota Wild continues to support numerous programs and initiatives that help provide as many people as possible the opportunity to play hockey in a positive and inclusive environment in The State Of Hockey. The Minnesota Wild supports families and fans of every race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status and those with disabilities.”
We'll give you a moment to wipe the tears from your eyes.
Outsports closes with a short list of things the franchise could do in the way of meaningful outreach, including honoring Twin Cities Pride -- even if it's not a hockey-specific organization -- at its next Hockey is for Everyone night, plus selling those rainbow-colored shirts and hoodies.
They are, indeed, pretty cool looking. For now, some would argue buying one doesn't mean anything more than contributing to the Wild's bottom line.
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