Fleury to wear Indigenous-themed mask despite initial NHL plans to prevent him

Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will rock an Indigenous-themed mask after all in honor his wife on Native American Heritage Night.

Marc-Andre Fleury had his mask custom-designed by Cole Redhorse Taylor, and features quotes from his dad and the names of his kids on the back. (Photo via X/@RussoHockey)

After much discussion and disapproval across the hockey landscape, it appears that Marc-Andre Fleury will indeed wear a custom mask in celebration of Native American Heritage Night, despite the NHL's rule against doing so.

Perhaps even more notably, according to Michael Russo of The Athletic, neither Fleury or the Minnesota Wild will be fine for doing so, despite the expectation that Fleury would pay the requisite fine if the NHL did not intervene.

Initially, in an inexplicable move, the NHL allegedly did not allow Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to wear the custom mask for Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.

This mask is deeply personal for Fleury. His wife, Veronique, is of Abenaki and Mi'kmaq descent and the back of the mask also quotes Fleury’s father, Andre, and features the names of Marc-Andre and Veronique's children.

Fleury had the mask custom-made by Cole Redhorse Taylor, a member of the Prairie Island Indian Community. Although the NHL initially outlawed Fleury’s mask, the always-classy veteran goaltender autographed the item, which will be part of the team’s annual Prairie Island Indian Community Native American Heritage auction.

Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh, confirmed that his client was set to wear the mask regardless, but the NHL threatened the Wild with a more significant fine, Fleury backed off. A half-hearted reversal of course from the NHL however will allow the veteran netminder to wear the cage after all.

The ludicrous initial decision from the NHL falls in line with the disrespect shown towards Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ communities throughout Gary Bettman and Kim Davis’ tenures at the league offices.

The league initially banned Pride Tape for the 2023-24 season, a multicoloured piece of tape that displays a small act of solidarity with LGBTQ+ communities. After several players balked at the decision, including Connor McDavid, the league reversed course. The NHL has also banned special initiative jerseys for this season, including uniforms that celebrate Black History Month.

Bettman and Davis will be best remembered for the lip service paid to communities outside of their target demographic and let’s face it, you don’t have to be an activist to see how baffling the initial decision to ban Fleury from wearing a custom-made mask that celebrates his family's heritage was.