In spite of potential discipline from the NHL, Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury chose to honor his wife and her family during warmups on Native American Heritage Night. Fleury wore a special Native American Heritage mask before the game, putting him in violation of the league's new policy against wearing anything that promotes "special initiatives."
Hours before the game, Michael Russo of The Athletic reported Fleury would not be allowed to wear the mask in warmups. Fleury initially planned to defy the league's orders, but Fleury's agent, Allan Walsh, posted on social media that the NHL threatened "an additional significant fine."
That put Fleury in a tough position, but when the time came for warmups prior to the Wild's home game against the Colorado Avalanche, Fleury took the ice in his custom mask.
Fleury essentially called the NHL's bluff, and it may have paid off for him. In a follow-up report, Russo said it was unlikely Fleury would be disciplined for choosing to wear his Native American Heritage mask in warmups.
The mask, which was designed by a member of the Prairie Island Indian Community, paid tribute to his wife's indigenous ancestry. After wearing it in the pregame skate, Fleury autographed the mask and put it up for auction with proceeds going to the Minnesota Wild Foundation and the American Indian Family Center. The current bid is $15,500, and bidding ends on Nov. 30.
This saga comes shortly after the NHLto every team in the offseason. Under the league's new policy, players cannot wear special jerseys or equipment in warmups.
After last year's controversies stemming from several teams and players not participating in special Pride Night warmups, Bettman said the issue had become a "distraction from the essence of what the purposes of these nights are."
Originally, the new rule included players using Pride Tape on their sticks during warmups and games, but the NHL reversed course on that decision when Arizona Coyotes defenseman in a game against the Anaheim Ducks.