Aesthetically, there are few things more important to hockey players than their hair - or, as players and fans alike prefer to call it, their "flow."
Flow, defined as "hair that would flow out the back of someone's helmet and curl up around the back of the helmet" (Urban Dictionary), is a sacred part of the professional game. You won't catch a guy with great flow with a hair out of place before or after a game. Today, the kings of flow include star players like Kris Letang, Erik Karlsson and Patrick Sharp, among others, who let their locks flow freely out of the back of their buckets without a care in the world.
For others, though, the art of flow is a struggle. Some may avoid growing their hair out for the simply reason that they don't look good with long hair - which is fine, of course (see Lundqvist, Henrik for a prime example of a guy who's doing just fine with short hair). Others try and fly under the radar, as their flow remains flat and uninspiring. Some may simply not like dealing with the extra maintenance work necessary to upkeep "beauty" level flow.
Then there are those who have memorable flow for all the wrong reasons. For all the great hairstyles the National Hockey League has seen over its long and rich history, there have been just as many that have left us wondering what could have possibly been going through the mind under the questionable hairdo. From miscalculated mullets to strange colors and styles, the men on this list might have been able to dazzle and wow us with their ability on the ice, but they certainly weren't winning over fans (or the ladies, for that matter) because of their hair. Here are just a few of those legendary (for the wrong reasons) hairdos.
15 Ron Duguay's Frazzled Mullet
Ron Duguay was the proud owner of several funky hairstyles over the year, using his plentiful, curly locks in various different ways. It would seem, though, that Duguay "mailed it in" when it came to his hair - or at least controlling it. Duguay lands on the list thanks to the massive mop of curls that he wore as a mullet, an odd hairstyle even during the mullet's glory years. The unkempt mountain of hair pointed in every different direction, and it's a wonder it never became a pain for Duguay to deal with while trying to skate with the puck.
14 Wayne Gretzky's Not-So-Great Mullet
For the most part, Gretzky had some of the best hair in the league through out his marvelous NHL career. The Great One knew how to coif The Great Flow - but no one is perfect, not even Gretzky. The Gretzky do depicted here was by far one of his worst. During the early 80's Gretzky was rocking a Barry Melrose style mullet, so while the "flow" was strong, the "business in the front" wasn't up to Gretzky's usual standards.Thankfully, Gretzky learned how to rock the flow worthy enough to match his unparalleled on-ice talent.
13 Mike Ricci's Elegant Flow
Don't get me wrong - Mike Ricci had great flow. He had enough flow to share it some with each guy on the ice (including the other team) and they'd all be rocking great flow at once. That being said, though, Ricci had one slip-up in one of his official team headshots during his time with the Sharks, as he looked more like a Spanish TV soap opera hunk than a tough hockey player. While it looked fine under a bucket, the women's shampoo commercial quality hair from Ricci in this photo just doesn't fit for a hard-nosed player.
12 Michael Handzus' Bouncy Mop
Michael Handzus could land on a list lauding great hairstyles, as some of the flow he rocked throughout his career was top-10 worthy. In this particular case, however, his frazzled, oversized mullet earns him a scolding rather than a round of applause. The "flow" literally needs to flow as a player streaks down the ice. This version of Handzus' mullet did more bouncing than flowing. Handzus got his "flow game" together eventually, but we wouldn't let this misstep slide.
11 Scott Hartnell's Luscious Curls
Some people love Scott Hartnell's long, curly red hair, while others look at it as a shaggy mop of a mess. It was bad enough when it was a mop, but it got worse when Hartnell went through a face where the long hair was straightened out, earning him the same criticism that Ricci got earlier in this list. In general, though, Hartnell's hair was scraggly and a myriad of tangles, which won the hearts of Flyers fans...and Flyers fans only. Many held figurative funerals when Hartnell chopped the locks - the rest of us said "good riddance."
10 Larry Robinson's Mushroom Cut
Larry "Big Bird" Robinson rocked some great hairstyles over the years, but like many before and after him, he tried something new and it didn't work out. Most of the time Robinson had his hair up in a mini-afro, or simply flowing. Here, though, he chose to wear it down, and nearly started a new mushroom cut trend. Thankfully, the legendary defenseman got his hair game on track, along with his on-ice game, giving him the entire package throughout his Hall of Fame career.
9 Barry Melrose's Outdated Flow
Barry Melrose lands on this list for a couple of reasons. Granted, his mullet was one of the most famous in the National Hockey League for the longest time. For starters, you'd be hard pressed to find a National Hockey League coach in the last 30-40 years with a lot of "flair" (besides Barry, of course), because most of them are older, "matured" hockey minds that are more focused on getting their powerplay to click to have any time to worry about growing their flow. The other thing that gets Melrose on the list is the fact that he still rocks the mullet: proudly, I might add - but it's almost 2015, Barry. Your mullet was not made for ESPN hockey coverage, friend.
8 Andrei Kostitsyn's Russian Touch
Andrei Kostitsyn did a lot of things wrong throughout his less-than-stellar National Hockey League career. You can add "getting a good haircut" to that list. Kostitsyn was the proud owner of a "Russian mullet" (which probably isn't a real thing, but for the purpose of this piece we'll use the term). If you looked at Kostitsyn straight on, you'd think he simply had his hair in a boring, flat style. The second he turns his head, though, the flatness continues in the form of a "mullet" that lies directly on the back of his head and neck. So, while he had the "length" for flow, there was certainly no actual flow when Kostitsyn was skating around the ice (though it was usually more of a glide than a skate).
7 Darius Kasparaitis as Goldilocks
Darius Kasparaitis was known for more his legendarily brutal hip checks throughout his National Hockey League career - lest we forget the awful haircut that got him through some of that career. Kasparaitis, at one time during his stint with the Rangers, had a mix of a long, flowing haircut combined with the classic children's style bowl haircut. It was a mixture that should never have been, as Kasparaitis simply looked like a scary version of Goldilocks.
6 Patrick Kane's Miscalculated Mullet
Let's be honest here, on a couple of different levels: first off, if you had to pick which NHL player would be most likely to sport a mullet, without knowing which player was rocking it, you'd probably pick Patrick Kane - even before he ever grew his first pro mullet. Through his so-far brilliant career, Kane has had a few different variations of the "Kaner Mullet"...this is one is by the worst, though. Too much party in the back, not enough business in the front - and while à propos, considering his style of play, the racing stripes were a bad idea from the start.
5 Daniel Alfredsson's Ponytail
Daniel Alfredsson's flowing blonde hair won the hearts of Sens fans and international hockey fans alike. His hair's "greatness" trajectory seemed to follow his career path - he had his best hair for the best years of his career. Alfie made one mistake, though, and that was to put his hair in a ponytail. No self-respecting hockey player should ever limit the "flow of his flow" by restricting it and tying it up - with an elastic no less! Thankfully, this didn't stick, or we'd have some serious problems adding Alfie to the list of players with great flow.
4 Brian McGrattan's Dyed Do
Brian McGrattan was (and still is) one tough son of a gun out on the ice. If you messed with McGrattan, you had to know that you we're pretty much guaranteed a realignment of your facial bone structure. McGrattan, for reasons unbeknownst to even the smartest of men, deciced he would do a little restructuring to his hair at one point during his time with the Calgary Flames, opting for "hot blonde" streaks through the top of his spiky hair. Don't get it twisted - I would never contemplate going toe-to-toe with McGrattan - but those who did must have gotten a least a little snicker out of the odd dye-job (it may have even started a few fisticuffs on it's own).
3 Mike Commodore's Ginger 'Fro
Mike Commodore might have won "best looking redhead" if a poll of the like took place and only included national hockey league players. It gets a high spot on this list, though, because as weird as it looked with the helmet off, it was even stranger underneath a helmet. The "ginger 'fro" would poke out from every nook and cranny of his bucket - a hockey player's flow is meant to not only be flowing, but also aesthetically pleasing and "in control," two things that Commodore's afro was not.
2 Bryan McCabe's Blue Mohawk
We can at least give Bryan McCabe some credit for being original. His idea though original, made him look a tad off. The blue mullet he wore awhile back during a Leafs playoff run was simply awful. So why did he wear it?
"My wife. She pushed me into the Mohawk. I liked it actually, I would have kept it for a while, but Mohawks started popping out all over the place and it was out before it was in. Now, I'm a little bald, so there is nothing left that I can do." (via ESPN.com)
Sure you liked it, Bryan. Sure you did.
1 Al Iafrate's "Skullet"
As nice as it would have been to be original for this piece by going with a new name at the top, it's hard to beat Al Iafrate's "Skullet" look, which has landed at the top of best and worst hockey hairstyles for a number of years. While the "flow" was there, the bald spot right in the middle of two sets of hair that could stand alone just throws everything off. While it was Iafrate's trademark, you'd be hard pressed to catch anyone else who would willingly replicate that look.