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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday that teams will no longer wear specialty sweaters during warmups because “it’s become a distraction.”

The decision to move away from specialty warmup sweaters for events such as Pride Night is the latest development in what was arguably the most polarizing subject in the NHL this season.

“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 of our clubs in some form or another host nights in honor of various groups or causes,” Bettman said in an interview with Sportsnet following a Board of Governors meeting. “And we rather them continue to get the appropriate attention that they deserve and not be a distraction.”

Bettman said teams still can have specialty nights such as Pride Night, Black History Night, Military Appreciation Night and Hockey Fights Cancer. He also said teams still can create and sell those specialty sweaters for various charities.

“Players who choose to model them can do that,” Bettman said. “It’s really just the question of what’s on the ice.”

The league-wide conversation around specialty sweaters — namely Pride Night sweaters — picked up in January when then-Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov opted not to wear a Pride Night-themed warmup sweater. Provorov, who was recently traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, cited his religious beliefs, saying he wanted “to stay true to myself and my religion.”

The Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers were among the teams that said they would wear special sweaters for their respective Pride Nights only to reverse course. The Wild announced their sweaters would be sold at a charity auction.

In March, the Chicago Blackhawks reportedly did not wear their Pride-themed warmup sweaters because of security concerns over a Russian law that expanded restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQIA+ rights.

March also saw San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer sit out of warmups when the team held its Pride Night, also citing his religious beliefs. He said at the time, “I strongly believe that every person has value and worth and the LGBTQIA+ community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey.”

Days later, brothers Eric and Marc Staal, who both play for the Florida Panthers, also sat out of warmups when the team held its Pride Night. The Staal brothers issued a statement that said they carry “no judgement on how people choose to live their lives” while adding that wearing a Pride sweater “goes against our Christian beliefs.”

In Thursday’s interview, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman raised the issue of fans’ concerns over feeling comfortable at games and of making the decision to dissolve specialty sweater nights during Pride Month.

“I agree those are legitimate concerns,” Bettman said. “But in the final analysis, all of 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.”

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NHL commissioner: No more specialty sweaters during warmups