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The History of the Playoff Beard

It is one of the greatest traditions in hockey. It is a rite of passage for players, and the best way to track progress during a run for the cup.

The origins of the playoff beard can be traced back to the 1980’s and the New York Islander dynasty. From 1980-1983 the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cup titles and did it while sporting some beards that would make Chuck Norris blush.

Islanders players like Ken Morrow, Butch Goring, John Tonelli, Clark Gillies, and Gord Lane all grew out the beard come playoff time, leading them to 19 straight playoff series wins.

After the fall the of the Islander dynasty the playoff beard went into a brief hiatus but is believed to have made it’s return to the NHL with the ’93 Montreal Canadiens and the ’95 New Jersey Devils on their way to the franchise’s first cup. The beard has been a staple in Lord Stanley’s Playoffs ever since.

Today, common practice is to not shave until you win the cup or your team is eliminated from postseason play. The beard is practiced by many around the league regardless of their innate beard-growing ability.

Some of the best beards in recent memory belong to Jean Sebastien Giguere, who during his 2003 run to the finals admitted that both he and his wife hated the beard, however he had to do it for the team, Bret Hedican, and Niedermayer brothers Rob and Scott after winning the cup with Anaheim in 2007.

Current Blue Jacket Mike Commodore (right) has taken the beard a step further and made it a ritual of letting his hair grow out as well.

Others however, are not quite as successful when it comes to growing out the facial hair. But Sidney Crosby is proof that quantity isn’t everything. The peach fuzz the Pittsburgh captain sported last season was enough the carry the Penguins to the cup.

Chicago’s Patrick Kane, who claims he cannot grow a beard, shows off a playoff mullet instead.

The beard has even led to charity events as some teams hold  beard-a-thons in order to raise donations for charitable organizations.

It has also become a way for fans to show support during the playoffs. Sportscenter hockey analysts Barry Melrose and Matthew Barnaby have also been known to sport the beard come playoff time.

The beard is not only common in the NHL, but many minor hockeys leagues across the North America and Europe as well. The beard has transcended hockey and is even practiced in other sports such as the NFL and the NBA.

So while it’s a long, tough road through the playoffs, losing the razor might be the key to the cup. – Twitter: @Rob_Ogden

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