As the 2021-2022 NHL season opens, the Arizona Coyotes are the only team intending to completely relax their game-day dress code for players, according to an ESPN poll of players. 32 teams.
The NHL is the only one of North America’s four major professional men’s sports leagues to have a strict dress code on game days spelled out in its collective agreement. CBA Exhibit 14, Paragraph 5 reads: “Players are required to wear jackets, ties and dress pants at all club matches and when traveling to and from such matches, unless otherwise specified. contrary to the head coach or general manager. “
The NHL told players they could dress however they wanted during the 2020 playoffs in Toronto and Edmonton, which players generally appreciated, but the league reverted to CBA policy the last season.
But not the Coyotes; Alex Meruelo Jr., the team’s brand chief, approached former team captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson with the concept ahead of last season to lighten the dress code for home games, and Ekman- Larsson loved it.
“[Meruelo] are very open to going to the game and expanding our fan base and whatever we can do to be a little unique and different, they are always up for trying different things, ”said the defender of Coyotes Jakob Chychrun at ESPN. the first team to not have a dress code was great. The guys loved it. I think it’s great that you can show off a bit of your personality and your wardrobe other than your costumes. I had fun with it. I liked that. I’m glad this is something we will continue to do. “
Chychrun said he was very happy to wear a “funky sweater” last season from Balenciaga, with a “crazy print”.
“It was loud and fun to wear,” he said. “A small statement.”
NBA and NFL players regularly turn arena entrances into a fashion show, designer sports and streetwear looks that are shared on social media and can even generate their own news cycle, like the beanie. , the extremely oversized sweater and scarf from Toronto Raptors center Serge Ibaka in 2020.
Some players wish they could follow suit, including one of the game’s biggest stars, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews.
“I wish there was no dress code for games and the like,” Matthews told ESPN in a recent interview. “I don’t mind wearing a suit, but it gets old I guess. It gets old pretty quickly. I think it would be fun to wear different things and be able to express yourself, like what the NBA does or even a little NFL. I just wear what makes me happy off the ice and even in the ice. But when it comes to games, we obviously have a certain outfit that we have to stick to. I hope it doesn’t. is not too long we ‘I’ll do it. “
The Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators have said they both plan to have the players wear team tracksuits for games this season. Other teams have removed the tie requirement, stipulating only a suit.
The Seattle Kraken expansion required players to dress “business casual” for preseason game days. The new NHL franchise hasn’t figured out its regular season code yet, but the Kraken are considering relaxing it from the traditional costume and tie mandate.
The Dallas Stars have switched to a “relaxed bubble” policy for games over the last two months of last season, but have said they will return to suits and ties for the 2021-22 season.
According to sources, the NHLPA has been lobbying behind the scenes for a league-wide change so that players can express their personalities through fashion. The NHLPA believes this will help players develop their individual brands and “grow the game,” which is a long-standing mantra of the league.
A league source has predicted that NHL teams will completely relax the dress code over the next five years, but it takes time to change long-standing standards. The source noted that the NHL is a league of copiers, so once a few teams hook up it will snowball from there.
An NHL player told ESPN that he and his teammates have openly spoken about their desire to follow the Coyotes’ lead.
“Our GM is so old fashioned though. I just don’t see it happening,” said the player. “This is ridiculous. Anything I wear at the rink won’t affect the way I play. In fact, if I don’t wear a suit and tie for an hour on a bus and wear something, I’m more comfortable, maybe I’ll play better.
“I understand the aspect of tradition. I understand that we represent the organization and the last thing an NHL team wants is to be embarrassed. But that seems like a prime example of why which the NHL is stuck behind the NBA and the NFL in some ways, because our league says it wants to grow up, but it’s scared to do it.We have to move forward.