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NHL Awards

Finalists suiting up for NHL Awards

Players prepare to bring their 'A-Game' in Las Vegas

by Nic Screws / NHL.com Correspondent

When New York Islanders forward Matt Martin hits the red carpet at the NHL Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN), expect to see him looking his best.

"That's what we call it when a teammate shows up to the rink in a killer, perfectly-fitting suit with all the bells and whistles," Martin said. "We say, 'Oh you brought your A-Game suit today?'"

Martin, who led the NHL with 365 hits this season, is being recognized Wednesday for his charitable efforts off the ice. In his inaugural year running the Matt Martin Foundation, he is a finalist for the NHL Foundation Player Award, given to the player who most enriches the lives of the people in their community.

But how does he plan to out-dress fellow nominee P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens, who is known for his bold style choices such as fur-collared coats and velvet suits?

"My style goals are focused more on fit over flash," said Martin, who currently favors the slim-fit suit with polished sneakers look. "On game days, I always aim to look nice, but more reserved and professional. But an event like the NHL Awards, [it's] a chance to be a little more aggressive with your look."

Menswear designer John Varvatos is a Detroit native who is known for his rugged meets rock and roll sensibility and has outfitted a select few nominees for the League's biggest offseason event. Each athlete's ensemble, including tailored suits, shirts, ties, belts and shoes, is carefully coordinated in advance.

Among the players who will be dressed in Varvatos' designs for this year's show: Vezina Trophy nominees Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals; Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano and Subban.

Bishop, who is celebrating his second career Vezina nomination after another exceptional, albeit shortened season due to a leg injury sustained in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, is excited and honored to be selected by Varvatos for the big night.

"Admittedly, I went a little safe with my outfit the first time around when I was nominated a few years ago," said Bishop, who wore a simple navy suit and conservative striped tie combination in 2014. "I feel more confident this time around and I've realized honors and events like these don't happen every day, so you need to make the best of it and really go for it."

Bishop, who will be fitted for his look this week at the Varvatos boutique at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace prior to the show, is looking to up his suit game to something a little more formal.

"I'm thinking along the lines of a navy tuxedo, maybe with black lapels," Bishop said.

Just don't expect the fit to be ultra-slim.

"The Europeans [in the NHL] really lap us Americans in regards to personal style," Bishop said. "But I just don't understand how they get away with having the fit of their suits cut so slim. I guess I just like to move around more than them. I want the suit to be fitted, but I also want to be able to get in and out of my car without worrying about ripping the crotch of my suit pants."

So who are Martin and Bishop looking forward to style scoping themselves on Wednesday?

"It's always fun to see what Brent Burns comes off the team bus wearing," Martin said of the San Jose Sharks defenseman, who is a Norris Trophy finalist and won the NHL Foundation Player Award last season. "He's a phenomenal player and has the right attitude to pull off looking great in anything."

"If Burns' ensemble is anything like the one he showed up wearing to the All-Star Game, it will definitely be a showstopper," Bishop said. "You have to respect that confidence."

Nic Screws is a fashion editor and stylist. 

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