Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Dress Codes

I work in an industry that allows me to dress in clothes that make me safe while still being comfortable. I don't have to wear a shirt and tie, but golf shirts are the limit of what I can wear when it comes to a more casual look as I'm still required to wear a collar in my professional setting. In saying that, there was a bit of flap caused by Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette today when the newspaper published an article where he and a couple of Montreal Canadiens expressed their wishes for a more lax dress code in the NHL. None of them dislike the suit-and-tie dress code for the players as it is, but Cowan and Habs forward Brendan Gallagher talk about how Gallagher would like a few more options when it comes to the dress code enforced by the NHL and its teams.

As Cowan points out in his article, the NHL's dress code is a part of the 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement where the NHL lays out the expected clothing a player wears when it comes it representing the league and/or his team. It reads, "Players are required to wear jackets, ties and dress pants to all Club games and while travelling to and from such games unless otherwise specified by the Head Coach or General Manager."

In 2005, Scott Burnside, then of ESPN, explored this same issue, and found that the previous CBA, negotiated in 1995, also contained the exact same dress code rule for its players. It is, word for word, the exact same statement as listed in the above paragraph, so it's not like players of this generation of any age haven't fallen under this rule.

While Gallagher is the player saying that he wants more options today, it was former Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier who had those same sentiments in 2005. Whether it's a player saying it in 2018 or in 2005, players have accepted this reality of wearing a suit to the office, but would like the option of wearing something else, something possibly more casual.

Doesn't that sound like every professional everywhere?

A dress code is something that employers use to cultivate an image of professionalism and sophistication. While at work, one is expected to represent one's employer in terms of culture and message, and the image of the company is part of that culture. This is why you rarely see lawyers wearing shorts and t-shirts while arguing cases, why you see police officers wearing a non-descript uniform, and why NHL players wear suits into and out of the arena.

Away from the arena, players can wear jeans and t-shirts while at home or out with friends and family. No one will fault them for being comfortable on their own time, and no one can force them to wear a suit if the occasion doesn't call for it. While players like Henrik Lundqvist and PK Subban are building their own image wearing suits out on the town, not all players have that same desire to be a member of high fashion.

Don't expect this clause in the CBA to disappear in the next CBA. While Don Cherry likes to ramble on about how good "the boys" look every Saturday as they walk into the rink, the fact is that the dress code is there to elevate the NHL's image.

Deion Sanders once said in GQ, "If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good." I don't know if the third line in that statement is the intended goal of the dress code, but most athletes would likely agree that if wearing a suit to the rink is the worst part of getting paid to pay professionally, they'd dress in knight's armor if that's what was demanded in the dress code to make millions of dollars to play hockey.

I know I would.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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