Pushing Conformity in the NHL

The NHL is the only professional sports league in North America that requires their athletes to wear a suit and tie on game day. The choice of the particular suit and tie that is worn on game day can be a difficult decision to make. If the look is too flashy it might make it seem like the player is trying to draw attention to themselves and take away from their team.

In the NBA the dress code is business casual on game day so the athletes are more free to show their style. This allows for the athletes to bring out their personalities in what they wear.

PK Subban is one of the players in the NHL who isn’t afraid to break the mold when it comes to what he wears to the rink. He likes to show off his sense of style by wearing pastel and patterned suits which do cause a bit of a stir. The risks that he has taken have rewarded him by being named to Sports Illustrated Fashionable 50 issue. Subban does not let the back lash of not conforming to hockey’s conservative culture get him down, he just continues to match his style off the ice with his style on the ice.

Even on the ice the NHL athletes have very little say in how they wear their uniforms and are forced to conform. Wayne Gretzky has been a main influencer in hockey players all over the world by tucking his jerseys in his pants when he played. Alex Ovechkin tucked his jersey while playing in the NHL but that has now been outlawed. Also having your pants ripped and flowing when you play has been outlawed by the NHL. Fans love to see their favourite players display a sense of individuality, but the line between entertainment and self promotion will continue to be monitored.

Having to worry about conforming to rules and not letting players express who they truly are and how they feel can have a negative impact. Based on a study of a junior- league hockey team it was proven that the pressure to conform was associated with the deterioration in the groups performance.

Daphnee Harahan a menswear designer and image coach thinks that the best way for athletes to go about dressing for game day is to remember there is a difference between dressing for game day and dressing for the red carpet. she recommends to her clients to start branching off in small ways by maybe wearing a patterned tie or a unique coloured suit. It is important to be respectful of the NHL environment but its also important to show a bit of personality.

Athletes now are more fashionable then they were 20 years ago. They have started veering away from the classic black, grey and navy suits you would normally see coming from the bus to the rink but are still keeping the professional look that the NHL is known for. Young rookies coming in like Owen Tippett don’t believe the NHL should follow the NBA’s  business casual approach to game day, but still feel there should be room to show your personality in the suit and tie dress code.

Featured image: PK Subban

sarahhoerig

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