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Minnesota Wild goalie refrained from wearing Native American Heritage Night mask during warmups

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The Minnesota Wild are holding a Native American Heritage Night on Friday, so goalie Marc-Andre Fleury wanted to honor his wife’s indigenous background.

So, he had a mask designed to acknowledge his wife, but the NHL is disallowing him to wear it.

The NHL announced in June that in order to avoid any “distraction,” themed jerseys and equipment will no longer be worn on the ice. The stance stemmed from when several players and some teams (including the Wild) opted not to wear LGBTQ-themed jerseys during warm-ups on their respective Pride Nights.

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Marc-Andre Fleury warming up

Marc-Andre Fleury, #29 of the Minnesota Wild, warms up before facing the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2023 NHL Global Series Sweden at Avicii Arena on November 19, 2023, in Stockholm, Sweden.  (André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

However, commissioner Gary Bettman said the ban would be in effect for all theme nights.

Fleury had a member of the Prairie Island Indian Community design the mask, according to The Athletic, who said he was “bummed” that he could not wear it.

The goalie originally planned to wear it and take any punishment, says his agent, Allan Walsh, but he backtracked when the league threatened a more significant penalty.

Bettman said he made his decision on the jerseys in order to keep “the focus on the game.”

“I suggested that it would be appropriate for clubs not to change their jerseys in warm-ups, 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, and we’d rather them continue to get the appropriate attention that they deserve and not be a distraction,” Bettman told SportsNet at the NHL Board of Governors meeting in June.

Marc-Andre Fleury makes save

Marc-Andre Fleury, #29 of the Minnesota Wild, makes a save against the Dallas Stars during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on November 12, 2023, in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Bettman even said that theme nights will still occur, jerseys will be sold and designed, and players could even “model them” if they choose.

“It’s really just a question of what’s on the ice,” Bettman said.

The Rangers and Blackhawks also opted not to wear pride jerseys despite previously advertising that they would, a phenomenon that was brought upon by Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers. The defenseman said he would not wear a Pride jersey, citing his Russian Orthodox religion.

Marc-Andre Fleury sprays water

Marc-Andre Fleury, #29 of the Minnesota Wild, sprays water on his face before the start of the second period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 9, 2023, in New York City. (Elsa/Getty Images)

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The NHL reversed its ban on Pride-themed tape last month.

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