“This year, we tripled the size of it. This is a huge, huge liability for us. If we don’t sell this out, we’re going to lose a lot of money. But to my amazement, we sold out in like 27 hours. So just over a day, which is wild.”
Of the players who participated, about two-thirds identify as LGBTQ+, with 20 percent of those nonbinary or trans, according to an event press release. In addition to the four guaranteed games, there was a Friday night mixer, along with swag bags, customized name plates for the jerseys and several other giveaways.
Thompson conducts a pseudo draft where he tries to balance the talent on all the teams based on info received from players. That includes mixing genders, non-LGBTQ+ players and other considerations. Sometimes, a little rebalancing is needed once games begin.
The NHL also had a presence, with former defenseman Andrew Ference and current Chicago Blackhawks minor leaguer Kurtis Gabriel on hand and even taking the ice at times to help out struggling teams. Luke Prokop, who could become the first openly gay player on an NHL contract, sent a video as his playoff season didn’t allow him to attend. Ference and Gabriel, who wrapped players’ sticks with Pride tape, also participated in the All-Stars of Pride, which highlighted 28 players who stood out over the weekend. Taylor was one of those players.