Behind the Bench: Why Do Hockey Players Wear Suits?

Benjamin Kenyon

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Hockey Players Wear Suits

In the fast-paced, bone-jarring world of ice hockey, where adrenaline flows as freely as the ice skates glide, one might wonder why, off the rink, hockey players don a very different kind of attire – suits. 

From the NHL’s biggest stars to aspiring players in youth leagues, the tradition of hockey players wearing suits has deep roots and continues to be a defining feature of the sport’s culture.

But why do hockey players wear suits? 

Is it merely tradition or does it serve a more profound purpose? In this blog post, we’ll dive into the fascinating history and significance of this practice. 

From professionalism and respect for the sport’s heritage to the practicality of maintaining a positive public image, we’ll uncover the layers of meaning behind the suits worn by these athletes.

Hockey Players Wear Suits

What Do Players Wear While Playing Hockey?

Hockey players wear specialized equipment to protect themselves and enhance their performance on the ice. 

The specific gear can vary depending on the level of play and personal preferences, but here are the typical items that players wear while playing hockey:

  • Helmet: A certified hockey helmet is mandatory in most leagues to protect the head from injury. It includes a cage or visor to protect the face.
  • Mouthguard: Players often wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth and reduce the risk of concussions.
  • Neck Guard: Some players wear a neck guard to protect the neck from cuts and impact.
  • Shoulder Pads: These provide protection for the shoulders, chest, and upper arms.
  • Elbow Pads: Elbow pads cover and protect the elbows from impact.
  • Gloves: Hockey gloves protect the hands and wrists while allowing for a good grip on the stick.
  • Jersey: Players wear team jerseys with their number and name on the back.
  • Pants/Shorts: Hockey pants or shorts with built-in padding protect the hips, thighs, and lower spine.
  • Shin Guards: These protect the shins and knees from sticks, pucks, and collisions.
  • Skates: Hockey skates are specially designed for the ice surface and provide ankle support and protection.
  • Socks: Hockey socks are worn over the shin guards and often match the team’s colors.
  • Cup/Jockstrap: Male players wear a protective cup to protect the groin area.
  • Hockey Socks: These cover the shin guards and often match the team’s colors.
  • Hockey Pants/Girdle: Some players wear an additional layer of padded pants or a girdle for extra protection.
  • Hockey Jersey: A team jersey with the player’s number and name on the back.
  • Hockey Socks: These cover the shin guards and often match the team’s colors.
  • Hockey Pants/Girdle: Some players wear an additional layer of padded pants or a girdle for extra protection.
  • Hockey Socks: These cover the shin guards and often match the team’s colors.
  • Hockey Skates: Specially designed ice skates with a rigid boot and sharp blades for maneuverability on the ice.
  • Hockey Stick: A player’s stick of choice, which can vary in terms of length, curve, and flex depending on their position and style of play.
  • Garter Belt or Velcro Straps: These are used to secure the hockey socks in place.
  • Goalkeepers: In addition to the above, goaltenders wear specialized equipment that includes a mask, chest protector, leg pads, goalie skates, and a catching glove/blocker.

The type and quality of equipment can vary depending on the level of play, with professional players often using high-end, custom-fitted gear for maximum performance and protection. 

Safety is a top priority in hockey, so wearing the appropriate gear is crucial to prevent injuries.

Why Do Hockey Players Wear Suits?

Hockey players often wear suits when they are not on the ice for several reasons:


Wearing a suit is a sign of professionalism. It conveys a sense of responsibility and respect for the game, the team, and the fans. 

It’s a tradition in many sports, including hockey, for players to dress in business attire when representing their team in non-game settings.

Team Image

Teams want to maintain a positive and uniform image, and having players wear suits when traveling, attending press conferences, or participating in team events helps project a unified and professional image. 

This can enhance the team’s reputation and brand.

Respect for the Game

Hockey is a sport with a rich tradition and history. Players wearing suits off the ice is a nod to the game’s heritage and the respect players have for the sport itself.

Media and Public Relations

Hockey players are often in the public eye, especially at press conferences, charity events, and other public appearances. 

Wearing suits helps players look presentable and approachable in front of the media and fans.

Corporate Partnerships and Sponsorships

Many NHL teams have corporate partnerships and sponsors. When players attend events related to these partnerships, they are often required to wear suits as part of their contractual obligations.

Travel and Team Unity

When teams travel, especially for away games, players often wear suits. This not only maintains a professional appearance but also promotes team unity and camaraderie.

League Rules

In the NHL and many other hockey leagues, there are specific dress codes for players when they are not on the ice. 

These codes often require players to wear suits or business attire when attending team functions or league events.

While wearing suits is not directly related to playing hockey, it is a tradition and a part of the professional culture surrounding the sport.

It helps convey a sense of professionalism, respect for the game, and team unity, both to the public and within the hockey community.

The Tradition of The Hockey Suit

The Tradition of The Hockey Suit

The tradition of hockey players wearing suits off the ice has deep roots in the sport’s history and culture. Here are some key aspects of this tradition:

Historical Origins

The tradition of hockey players wearing suits can be traced back to the early days of the sport in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Hockey players, like athletes in other sports, were expected to present themselves as gentlemen both on and off the ice. Wearing suits was a sign of respect for the game and its traditions.

Respect for the Sport

Hockey has a strong sense of tradition and respect for the sport’s history. Wearing suits off the ice is a way for players to show reverence for the game, its pioneers, and its long-standing traditions.


As hockey became more organized and evolved into professional leagues like the National Hockey League (NHL), the expectation for players to dress professionally off the ice grew. 

Wearing suits became a symbol of professionalism and responsibility.

Team Unity

Wearing suits when traveling or attending team events fosters a sense of unity and camaraderie among players. 

It reinforces the idea that they are part of a team and should present a unified front, both on and off the ice.

Public Image

Hockey players are often in the public eye and their appearance matters in shaping the perception of the sport and the team. 

Wearing suits helps players look presentable and approachable when interacting with fans and the media.

League Rules

Many hockey leagues, including the NHL, have specific dress codes for players when they are not on the ice. 

These dress codes often require players to wear suits or business attire when participating in league events, media appearances, or team functions.

Corporate Partnerships

NHL teams often have corporate partnerships and sponsorships. Players may be contractually obligated to wear suits representing team sponsors at various events.

Community Involvement

Hockey players are known for their involvement in charitable and community activities. 

Wearing suits at charity events and fundraisers helps players appear dignified and serious about their philanthropic efforts.

While the tradition of hockey players wearing suits off the ice has evolved over the years, it remains an important part of the sport’s culture. 

It reflects the values of respect, professionalism, and unity that are deeply ingrained in the world of hockey.

Significance of Hockey Suits for Player’s Safety

Hockey suits, or the protective equipment worn by hockey players, are of paramount significance for player safety. Here are eight points elaborating on their importance:

Impact Protection

Hockey suits are designed to offer protection against the physical demands and potential dangers of the game. 

They include padding and reinforced areas in critical zones like the chest, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees, which absorb and disperse impact forces. 

This protection reduces the risk of injuries from collisions, checks, and falls during play.

Prevention of Fractures and Bruises

The padding in hockey suits helps prevent fractures, contusions, and severe bruising that can occur when a player is hit by a puck or a stick. 

Without this protection, players would be at a much higher risk of suffering bone fractures or painful contusions.

Cut and Abrasion Resistance

Hockey suits are made of durable materials that provide resistance against cuts and abrasions. This is particularly important in a game where sharp blades, sticks, and high-speed pucks are in play. 

Without suits, players would be at greater risk of lacerations and abrasions.

Protecting Joints and Ligaments

Hockey suits often include padding around the joints, such as the knees and elbows. 

This extra protection reduces the likelihood of injuries to joints, ligaments, and tendons during the fast-paced and sometimes physically demanding nature of hockey.

Facial Protection

The combination of a helmet and cage or visor provides essential facial protection. 

It safeguards players from facial injuries, including cuts, fractures, and dental damage, which could occur due to high-velocity pucks, sticks, or collisions.

Concussion Prevention

While hockey suits are not specifically designed to prevent concussions, they can help reduce the risk indirectly. By protecting the head and neck, they lower the chances of severe head injuries that may lead to concussions.

Enhancing Confidence

Knowing that they are well-protected by their suits, players can focus on their performance without worrying excessively about getting hurt. This can boost their confidence and allow them to play at their best.

Safety Standards and Regulations

Hockey suits are subject to strict safety standards and regulations set by governing bodies such as the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the National Hockey League (NHL). 

These standards ensure that the equipment provides adequate protection and meets minimum safety requirements.

Hockey suits are not just pieces of clothing; they are specialized protective gear designed to mitigate the risks associated with the sport. 

They play a crucial role in reducing the likelihood and severity of injuries, making the game safer for players at all levels of competition.

The Superstitions Regarding Hockey Suits

Hockey, like many other sports, is rife with superstitions and rituals, and some of these superstitions are related to the hockey suits or equipment that players wear. 

Superstitions can vary widely from player to player, but here are some common ones:

Putting Equipment On in a Specific Order

Many players have a specific routine for putting on their gear, often following a precise order. 

For example, some players must always put on their left skate before their right, or they might start with the left side of their body and then move to the right.

Lucky Undergarments

Some players have lucky undergarments, such as lucky socks or underwear, which they believe bring good luck when worn during games.

Taping the Stick a Certain Way

Players often have rituals related to taping their hockey sticks. They might use a specific color of tape, wrap it a certain number of times, or have a particular pattern they follow.

Wearing the Same Gear After a Win

If a player has a particularly good game or the team wins, they may be superstitious about wearing the same gear, including socks, underwear, or even the same set of equipment, for the next game.

Avoiding the Color Yellow

Some players avoid wearing or using anything yellow on game days, as it is considered bad luck in hockey superstition.

Tapping the Ice or Sticks

Before taking the ice, some players have a ritual of tapping their stick on the ice or on the boards for good luck or as a way to focus their energy.

Staying Quiet

There is a superstition among some players that it’s best not to talk about a shutout (a game where the opposing team doesn’t score) while it’s in progress, as doing so could jinx it.

Not Washing Equipment

Some players refrain from washing their equipment during winning streaks, believing that the accumulated sweat and grime bring good luck.

Wearing a Lucky Charm or Necklace

Some players wear lucky charms or necklaces under their jerseys, believing that these items bring them luck on the ice.

Eating Specific Meals

Players may have superstitions related to their pre-game meals, eating the same thing before each game they play well in.

Avoiding Certain Numbers

Some players avoid using or wearing numbers that they consider unlucky. For example, they might avoid wearing the number 13, as it is considered unlucky in many Western cultures.

It’s important to note that these superstitions are highly personal and can vary widely from player to player. While some players are very superstitious, others may not believe in these rituals at all. 

Superstitions are often used by athletes as a way to mentally prepare and feel more confident, even if there is no logical connection between the superstition and their performance.


Why do hockey players wear suits when not playing?

Hockey players wear suits for professionalism and tradition. It conveys respect for the sport, and its history, and presents a unified team image. 

It’s also often required by league rules and is essential for public appearances and media engagements.

Are there specific rules about when hockey players should wear suits?

Yes, many hockey leagues have dress codes for players when they’re not on the ice. 

These codes mandate suits or business attire for team events, travel, and league-related functions to maintain professionalism and team unity.

Do all hockey players wear suits, including those in lower-level leagues?

While the dress code may vary, the tradition of wearing suits is prevalent across most hockey leagues. 

Even in lower-level leagues, players often wear business attire for team functions and travel to uphold the sport’s professionalism.

Is wearing a suit just about tradition, or does it serve a practical purpose?

Wearing a suit in hockey combines tradition with practicality. 

It promotes professionalism and team unity, while also ensuring players present a positive image to fans, sponsors, and the media during various non-game-related engagements.

Are there any exceptions to the suit-wearing tradition in hockey?

Some exceptions may apply, such as specific team dress codes, casual dress days, or informal team events. 

However, the tradition of wearing suits remains strong in most hockey leagues as a symbol of respect for the sport and professionalism.

Wrapping Up

The tradition of hockey players wearing suits extends far beyond mere fashion. It’s a symbol of respect, professionalism, and unity that binds players to the rich heritage of the game. 

From the earliest days of the sport to the modern NHL arenas, the hockey suit is more than just clothing; it’s a testament to the enduring traditions and values that make hockey a unique and beloved sport. 

Whether on the ice or in a finely tailored suit, hockey players continue to inspire both on and off the rink, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of fans worldwide.

Hopefully, you have got my point. Thanks for your time.

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Benjamin Kenyon

With over eight years of experience in higher education, I bring a diverse skill set to the Head Men's Ice Hockey Coach role. My background spans collegiate hockey coaching, recruiting, compliance, budget management, game operations, public and media relations, marketing strategies, content development, social media management, press release distribution, broadcasting, video production, non-linear editing, sports photography, interpersonal communications, sports writing, interviewing, sports analytics, and statistics. My educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Sports Management, further enhancing my qualifications for this position. I am proficient in various software and platforms, including Adobe Creative Suite, social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn), and academic management systems (Salesforce, CAMS, Workday, Banner). My extensive experience and technical proficiency make me a well-rounded candidate for leading the men's ice hockey program.

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