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Cool and Casual: Coyotes Dress Down the Dress Code

Players showcase fashion, style and personality

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

Like most sports teams, the Coyotes have a "uniform" dress code during games.

It's before and after, now, the players are breaking the "code," with off-ice fashion that is showing more and more personality.

You could say the team's desire to build a model team on the ice is mirrored now away from the game. 

The team instituted a relaxed dress code for home games for the 2020-21 season, drifting from the classic suit-and-tie ensemble, a change Jakob Chychrun enjoys.

"I think all the guys love it," Chychrun said. "I think it's just good for the game. We're letting guys be creative and be themselves. I think it's important that they have an opportunity to do that. It's just good to get guys to show what they are like away from the rink."

Chychrun and other players cite the NBA and NFL for their willingness to embrace style.

"They don't really have strict dress codes," Chychrun said. "It's just good to get a little more publicity. Look, it's just great for the game and guys love doing it. Just nice to have things a little more relaxed, to be able to show some personality and have some fun." 

The initial idea came from Alex Meruelo Jr., Coyotes Strategic Advisor, Business and Hockey Operations. Meruelo Jr. approached captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson with the concept before the season, and Ekman-Larsson loved it.

Christian Fischer believes this might be the start of a trend in the NHL. The Coyotes are one of a few NHL teams to have adopted a more casual dress code. "I personally love it," he said.

"I think it's where the game is heading, instead of having that old-school, suit-and-tie rule," Fischer said. "You look around other leagues, these teams when they walk into their games -- and it's actually pretty exciting to see what players are wearing, what their taste is."

Fischer noted that he has received envious texts from players on other teams.

"Guys on other teams are kind of jealous -- 'What the heck are you guys doing?' I know quite a few of my friends around the league who are pretty jealous that we get to wear some fashionable clothes, some nice, high-end streetwear to the games."

Fans seem to like it, Fischer says. 

"It's good for growing hockey fans," he said. "It's a different part of the game, to see players' personalities and their fashion choices. That goes a long way with some people. And it's good for the personal brand." 

Fischer names three of his teammates -- Jakob Chychrun, Clayton Keller and Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- as the best-dressed. 

"They're really into fashion, all three of them," he said. "In normal times, when we'd be going to dinners, they're always the ones looking the best. It's not so much about expensive clothes or brands. I think it's just more so they're really just into the depth of fashion, whether it be shoes, matching colors, jewelry and watches. I think those three guys, they look pretty damn good coming to the rink every day. It's nothing flashy. It's not, 'Look at me.' I think it's just that they really look good -- and I know they take a lot of time with it."

Another benefit of the new dress code? Comfort.

"It's a lot more comfortable driving to games when you're not traveling in a suit and tie in a car or on a bus for an hour," Fischer said. "So that's also the nice part."

Lawson Crouse is more of a dress code traditionalist. However, he agrees on the comfort aspect.

"There've been games where it's been upwards of close to 90 degrees out," Crouse said. "And the arena isn't a close drive from North Scottsdale. So, sitting in a suit for 30-45 minutes in traffic can get very hot."

While Crouse may be a bit more reserved when it comes to exploring expanded dress code boundaries, he appreciates that many of his teammates enjoy the freedom. 

"If I do (decide) to take a game off the suit, I'm still trying to stick with something somewhat dressy," Crouse said. "We have a lot of guys on our team who love fashion, and I think that's good. People love different things, and for the guys who love fashion, I think it's really fun for them." 

Conor Garland doesn't consider himself a very "colorful" dresser.

"I wear the same colors, blue, a lot of blue," he said. "I wear the same clothes every day. I wear a turtleneck or a vest or a sweater. I like (the relaxed dress code). But I'm sure there are a lot of guys who like it a lot more than me. There are some guys with really good style -- like Kells has great style, good jackets and nice shoes. Chychy too."

"I like the guys with casual style, like Schmaltzy and Phil. I think they look really good when they wear a nice pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a jacket. It looks good on them. I'd say those guys -- Kells, Chych, Schmaltzy and Phil -- pull it off the best.

Garland is not particular about clothing brands. "No, no, not one bit," he said.

"I couldn't tell you more than three," Garland continued. "I'll shop at Kohl's, for all I care. In the summer I wear the same thing -- I wear my black or brown vest, with maybe a long sleeve Lululemon shirt and joggers. That's my style in the summer; it's just casual for me." 

Fischer, too, sticks to the basics. 

"When it comes to fashion, I've got to be the simplest-dressed man there is," he said. "I enjoy looking nice and things like that, but I am very simple. A pair of jeans and a nice white t-shirt does the trick for me. I think some guys might call that bland. To me, I just like looking good. Look clean, look good. I'm not a big jewelry or watch guy; I honestly don't even own a pair of high-end sneakers, Gucci or whatever the heck a lot of these guys wear. I'm more of a simple look."

Speaking of shoes, that's Chychrun's department.

"I'm a big shoe guy," he said. "And the rest just kind of falls into place for me."

Chychrun's biggest shoe collection is the "Off-White" designer-brand collaboration with Nike. 

"I have a bunch of those," he said. "Other than that, it's all just normal, whether it's designer shoes or running shoes you can dress up or down with. All my shoes are pretty much the same. You can wear them with shorts, or you can wear them with suit pants. It's kind of nice to have the flexibility."

Chychrun is applauded by teammates and fans for his style. He approaches the topic of style with a very modest, humble tone.

In fact, he credits his girlfriend with his road-trip fashion.

"I don't really have many essentials when I pack (for the road)," he said. "I'm going to be honest, my girlfriend does a lot of that for me. She picks a lot of my outfits and packs a lot of my clothes. So, I just kind of open up my bag to whatever I have, and it's usually a surprise. She's great."

"Style to me is something that -- it's a cool thing because everyone's different," he said. "Everyone has the things they like and the things they stick to. I'm not a fashion guru by any means, I don't follow it that much in detail or anything like that. I just wear what I think looks nice. It's really as simple as that for me."

"My closet isn't a majority of a certain brand," Chychrun continued. "(In fact) I try to clean my closet out every once in a while. I find it's almost relaxing, therapeutic in ways, to clean things out and get rid of some things.

"I just kind of -- I'm not really too specific on (brands). For me, it's almost hard to shop because of my body type, it's hard to find things that fit nice. I don't really have anything that I have a lot of. Colors, I'm pretty simple with colors to be honest. I have a lot of neutral colors. I like getting my colors from my shoes. But for the most part, it's a lot of black, white, grey, some tan and beige, very neutral colors I gravitate toward, just kind of simple and easy to put an outfit together that way.

As for a newer fashion, Chychrun has stylized, sort of, with his hair, too.

"I don't have a plan with it," he said. "Ever since quarantine, I just haven't been going to get it cut as often and, as it's gotten longer, I just kind of liked it being long. I haven't gone to get it cut or anything. I've been going with it. I don't really like 'product,' to be honest with you. It makes the hair feel a little greasy and whatnot.

"So, I just kind of let it go."

With the flow.

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All Photos Credit: Kelsey Grant - Arizona Coyotes

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