Veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury took a stand against NHL regulations by wearing a custom-designed mask for the Minnesota Wild’s Native American Heritage night on Friday. Despite being informed by the league that such a display was not allowed, Fleury hit the ice against the Colorado Avalanche proudly donning the specially crafted mask. Agent Allan Walsh confirmed earlier reports that the NHL had prohibited Fleury from wearing the mask, even during warmups. The league has a strict policy against players showcasing specialty jerseys, masks, stickers, decals, or tape for theme nights. This stance has drawn criticism in the past, notably during Pride nights when the NHL initially banned rainbow-colored tape, only to backtrack following backlash from the hockey community.
For Marc-Andre Fleury, the motivation behind his defiance was personal and poignant. Wanting to honor his wife, Véronique, an Indigenous woman, Fleury aimed to celebrate Native American Heritage Night in a meaningful way. The 38-year-old goaltender from Montreal, Quebec – a three-time Stanley Cup champion and the 2021 Vezina Trophy winner for the league’s top goaltender – made a powerful statement about recognizing and respecting diverse backgrounds within the hockey community. Marc-Andre Fleury’s actions have reignited discussions about the NHL’s uniform policy and the balance between honoring cultural heritage and adhering to league regulations. His decision to prioritize personal expression and support for his wife adds a compelling chapter to the ongoing conversation about inclusivity in the sport.
Despite the NHL’s strict regulations against players donning specialty items for theme nights, it appears that goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and the Minnesota Wild may avoid fines for the custom-designed mask worn during Native American Heritage night. Fleury, seeking to honor his wife, Veronique, who is of Abenaki and Mi’kmaq descent, offered to pay any potential fine personally. In response, the NHL reportedly threatened the organization with an “additional significant fine.”