The playoff beard is a rite of passage for NHL players. As a superstition, many hockey players believe they must not shave until their team is eliminated for fear of angering the hockey gods. It's not mandatory however, as some wild men have bucked the trend and (appeasing their girlfriends) shaved it off while still in the hunt. I’m not saying I believe in superstition, but there were a few volcanic eruptions that wiped out several poor tribes the day after a couple beards were prematurely shaven (this may or may not be true).
All beards are definitely not created equal. Those lucky enough to be born with strong Nordic or similar background can sport a full, hefty, viking beard. While others must live with adjectives like; weak, patchy, and wispy - and no athlete wants to be described as weak, patchy, and wispy.
It does seem that the rougher, tougher players seem to grow the ‘manliest’ beards. But sometimes the small, skilled guys can surprise you. Perhaps a big bushy beard could give the smallest players the extra oomph to go into the corner and come out with the puck.
We're just one round and change deep but you can get a feel for who are the Paul Bunyans and who are the Peggy Sues. For the purposes of this article we will consider any of those that have competed in the playoffs so far, even those whose teams were unfortunately eliminated in the first round. Being a Canuck fan myself, I’m no stranger to first-round exits.
They say the feeling of winning the Stanley Cup is like nothing else. But I'm sure finally shaving off a huge beard in June comes pretty close!
Let’s look at some hairy faces!
15 15. Dan Boyle
14 14. Brandon Bollig
This former Stanley Cup Champion knows a thing or two about the playoffs.
Brandon Bollig shocked the NHL when he shaved his beard during the first round. His intimidating performance against the Canucks matched his powerful black beard perfectly. Bollig explained however that in a few days he’ll “have a better beard than most of these kids.”
But did Bollig anger the hockey gods? Although the Flames dispatched Vancouver, they were crushed by the Ducks in the first game 6-1 and are now down two games to none heading back to Calgary.
13 13. David Jones
12 12. Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik ‘the model’ Lundqvist knows a thing or two about how to present himself. While the regular looking hockey players get sponsorships from fast food chains, Lundqvist probably gets paid the big bucks to wear designer suits.
11 11. Niklas Kronwall
Dearly departed (from the playoffs), thank you for your entry.
10 10. P.K. Subban
P.K. Subban’s beard may appear slightly sculpted and small at first glance, but delve deeper and it appears to be quite thick with a little curl. I don’t want to sound insane, but if Montreal goes far, he could be in the running for top beard.
9 9. Jason Garrison
After signing with the home-town Canucks, Jason Garrison and his big contract were asked to leave town in a trade with Tampa. Well, here he is in the second-round with beard that looks like it’s already gone four rounds while the Canucks shave and cry. Garrison's Lightning are already two wins away from the next round and if the Lightning advance, there's no telling what his beard could do.
8 8. Clayton Stoner
Clayton Stoner brings a hard-hitting physical presence to the Ducks third defensive pairing. And that’s why he can grow a hard-hitting physical beard; it’s simple science.
7 7. Marco Scandella
With a name like an Italian conqueror and the beard to match, Marco ranks high on our list. Sculpted and clean yet thick and formidable. With Chicago struggling to keep the puck out of the net we could see this beard grow as vast as the mother country.
6 6. Johnny Oduya
Johnny Oduya is a bit of a cheater as he’s been cultivating this beard throughout the regular season. However, we’ll list him to keep an eye on it. The Blackhawks have the potential to go all the way and this beard could go crazy.
5 5. Corey Crawford
Corey Crawford is back in the net and his beard is looking strong. His play has caught up to his facial hair as he's collected a pair of wins in the first game of Round 2. Although a reporter asked if he thought he would get pulled after letting in three goals (the same amount he let in for his last pulling) and Crawford was visibly ticked.
4 4. Brandon Prust
When hockey season is over, Brandon Prust could easily get a job selling chainsaws. In fact, it looks like he would need a chainsaw to cut through that robust shag. He’s a tough character on the ice, and it shows on his face.
3 3. Scott Darling
2 2. Braden Holtby
Wow, look at this blue collar bush. Does he go tree-planting in the offseason? This is magnificent. Holtby and Lundqvist are showing the league that goalies are serious beard-growers. Maybe it’s the perfect conditions created by wearing the mask acting as a hothouse terrarium. There could be lizards living in that beard.
1 1. Patrick Maroon
How does he handle living in Anaheim with a forest like that attached to his face? He's at the beginning of the second round and looks like he's spent a winter trapping wild animals in the frozen tundra. He looks like he arrived at the game via canoe, that he hollowed out himself from the same oak trees he built his log cabin with.
Patrick Maroon is the biggest and bushiest right now and with Anaheim looking like they'll go far we could be inducting his beard into the Hall of Fame.
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