MINNESOTA, U.S. – On November 22, the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Minnesota Wild announced that they were partnering with the Prairie Island Indian Community to celebrate Native American Heritage Day on Friday, November 24 when hosting the Colorado Avalanche at 7:30 p.m., with proceeds benefiting the American Indian Family Center and the Minnesota Wild Foundation.
However, the Athletic’s Michael Russo reported on November 24 to Twitter that Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had a beautiful mask designed and painted in honour of his wife to wear for that evenings game.
Fleury’s wife is Indigenous and the mask was designed by Cole Redhorse Taylor, a Mdewakanton Dakota, Indigenous artist. Given the significance, Fleury was prepared to wear the mask despite the NHL threat to fine him. His plan went without hiccup until the league threatened the entire Wild organization with an even larger fine if he were to do so.
The league is in the first year of a new policy that does not allow players to wear anything that promotes special initiatives on the ice.
The mask, which also features a quote from Fleury’s dad and has the names of his children on the back, was painted by Shell Shock Designs’ Noah Ennis — the same painter that produces many other goalie masks and NASCAR helmets.
Russo reported that Fleury autographed the mask and will still offer it up for auction as part of the Wild’s annual Prairie Island Indian Community Native American Heritage auction. Alongside the mask will be the team’s specially designed and autographed jerseys. Again, all proceeds will go to the Minnesota Wild Foundation and the American Indian Family Center.
According to the Russian Machine Never Breaks (RMNB), earlier this season, Travis Dermott of the Arizona Coyotes taped his stick with Pride Tape after the NHL banned the use of it in early October. Dermott’s decision to disobey the league sparked the NHL, NHLPA, and the NHLPA Player Inclusion Coalition to come to an agreement that allowed players to use stick tape in promotion of social causes during both games and practices.
Fleury went on to wear the mask, as pictured, in the game warm up of November 24. As of November 28, a fine for both Fleury and the Wild organization has yet to be announced or mentioned.