Robert Hagg

Flyers' Pride Night proves that it's more than just a game

Brooke Destra

Flyers' Pride Night proves that it's more than just a game

It was Pride Night at the Wells Fargo Center when the Flyers showcased their own victory to take pride in with a 3-2 win over the league-best Capitals.

But stepping outside of the typical narrative, this night was a prime example to help define the phrase, “It’s more than a game.”

The Flyers and the rest of the NHL, in partnership with You Can Play, have been able to put together pride nights throughout the entire league.

You Can Play is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

You Can Play works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete, judged by other athletes and fans alike, and only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success.

You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.

                            -You Can Play’s mission statement

Throughout the night, the Flyers media team showcased many different elements to putting this together. For warmups, players were also seen taping their sticks with pride tape.

Kurtis Gabriel, a forward on the Flyers’ AHL affiliate team, has used this pride tape throughout the entire season. A small notion like this can spark the narrative to see what else the players and league can possibly do to show their support.

Image courtesy of Alex McIntyre

This was a night of inclusion. A night of feeling like one belongs in an environment they may not feel accepted in otherwise. I prompted my Twitter followers to describe, in their words, the importance of a night like this. These were some of the responses I received:

There were also those who wanted to share their stories, their moments, what a night like this means to them — but wished to do so anonymously.

“But I’m bisexual and sexuality has always been something that’s hard for me. And the fact that hockey can almost accept me even on days I can’t means so much to me. Hockey has always been my escape and this just emphasizes how much hockey means to me. Because they take the time to show that hockey is for everyone. And knowing that I’m not alone, seeing all of the fans who support the LGBTQ+ community, or who are apart of the community themselves, is so validating.”

“It validates my authentic self.”

“Pride night is very important at a professional level, especially for the younger audiences watching. It lets everyone know that no matter who they are, it shouldn’t hold them back from doing what they want to do. It shows that no matter who you are, you will be supported.”


I feel as though it’s also important to note that I am an ally, if it wasn’t already obvious. I believe a night like this is important for the growth of the LGBTQ+ community — and to know the NHL recognizes the importance of this as well is a crucial step in pushing forward. Everyone deserves to be accepted for who they are, no matter who they love. And these nights are to help those who may not believe it otherwise, know they are surrounded by support and are not alone. To grow the community, so that one day, a night like this won’t even be necessary — because everyone will be accepted for who they are.

You've made it this far, so just remember the Golden Rule that you learned in kindergarten — treat others the way you want to be treated.

It’s quite simple when it’s broken down as such, don’t you think? However, there are still ways to go. But every single step, no matter how small, is a step closer to where we hope to be in the future.

It’s more than just a game. Never forget that.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Shayne Gostisbehere returns, Philippe Myers comes out and competition is brewing on Flyers' blue line

Shayne Gostisbehere returns, Philippe Myers comes out and competition is brewing on Flyers' blue line

Claude Giroux said on Monday that "in-house competition is always good."

The Flyers have it brewing on the blue line.

Much of the internal competition has to do with Robert Hagg seeing the ice and playing well. The stay-at-home defenseman drew into the lineup because Shayne Gostisbehere's offensive game has fallen short of expectations.

Over the past three games in which Gostisbehere was a healthy scratch, Hagg played physically, blocked seven shots and the Flyers allowed only five goals.

“Haggs has been playing really well, probably played his best game since I’ve been here last game in Columbus — blocked shots, made a big play on a 2-on-1 toward the end of the game, so I want to keep him in," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said before Friday's game against the Red Wings.

But the Flyers have not lost belief in Gostisbehere's offensive abilities. He's a 26-year-old defenseman who scored 65 points in 2017-18. To see his strengths come back to life, he has to play. He entered the lineup Friday in place of Philippe Myers as the Flyers opened a back-to-back set to finish a 16-game November.

“I want him to play to his strengths," Vigneault said of Gostisbehere. "He’s a skilled defenseman, so beat the forecheck, make that good first pass, jump up in the play when the opportunity is there. The best and the toughest offense to defend is when you have that second wave, when you have your Ds being a part of the attack. He’s a smart player, he knows when it’s time for him to jump up.

"His defensive play has been fine, he’s battled, he’s competed, I like his 1-on-1s. He’s got to play to his strengths, he’s aware of that and hopefully he does that for us.”

Myers, 22, has not played poorly. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder has six points (three points, three assists) and a plus-9 mark in 13 games. However, Hagg has played well, the schedule is jam-packed and Vigneault wants to spark Gostisbehere.

"Nobody likes sitting out, there’s no doubt, and I would expect the guys to be a little upset, but at the end of the day, they’ve got to keep themselves ready for the team," Vigneault said. "The team at some point is going to need them. I want to get Ghost back in, at some point we’re going to need Phil and we’re going to expect him to be ready and jump back in.

“We’ve got seven healthy D right now.”

Which means players are fighting to suit up. That's not a bad thing.

Let the competition begin.


Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

More on the Flyers

Which Flyers player has the most to lose in 2019-20 season?

Which Flyers player has the most to lose in 2019-20 season?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jordan Hall and Brooke Destra.

The topic: Which Flyers player has the most to lose in the 2019-20 season? 


Robert Hagg could go from playing all 82 games in 2018-19 to being a seventh defenseman in 2019-20. The Flyers' defense will look a lot different this season with the additions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun. The team is also "bullish" on 22-year-old Philippe Myers, general manager Chuck Fletcher said in mid-June (see story).

Hagg is only 24 years old and has proven his durability with 152 games over the past two seasons. However, Hagg will now be in serious competition for playing time. The Flyers are high on Myers and there's also 2013 first-round pick Samuel Morin in the picture.

Hagg, a 2013 second-round pick, understands his role and what works for him at this level. He competes and won't just give away his ice time, but things are getting crowded on the blue line. He'll be a restricted free agent next offseason. This year is awfully important and a ton could change from now until next summer for Hagg.


All eyes are on Carter Hart in hopes that he carries the Flyers to the playoffs this season, but where does Brian Elliott fall into all of this? 

Elliott extended his contract this offseason on a one-year deal worth $2 million. He beat out the highly anticipated Cam Talbot for the backup position. Talbot, a mentor to Hart, was brought in as a potential backup option for the future but the job went to Elliott, who will be entering his third season with the Flyers. 

There are a few things that go into analyzing why the 34-year-old goalie has a lot to lose this year and it comes down to: his ability to stay healthy and how much longer he plans on playing before hanging up his skates. 

In 2018-19, he was just one of eight pieces in the Flyers’ goaltending carousel. Elliott can be very serviceable if not overplayed, so being a backup should be the perfect scenario, right? Not exactly. 

The future beyond this season is unknown territory. Elliott is going to have a limited number of times to prove that he is still able to handle the pressure of the league. Not to mention, it’s crucial he stays healthy or he’ll be labeled as injury-prone moving forward. If he plans on playing after 2019-20, teams may not want to risk bringing on a player with that kind of track record. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers