Young players show leadership on Canadiens – at least in playoff haircuts

MONTREAL – One could weave a rug with all the hair that has fallen from the Montreal Canadiens in the past two weeks.

It started just before the opening game of Montreal’s NHL Eastern Conference playoff series against the Boston Bruins, when Guillaume Latendresse, Josh Gorges, Tom Kostopoulos and others showed up with buzz cuts.

It evolved into a modified version of the Mohawk look, with Latendresse taking the shears to Maxim Lapierre, Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, Greg Stewart and, most recently, defenceman Ryan O’Byrne.

A slip-up led to O’Byrne being cropped a little more closely than planned on the sides, but Latendresse admits he’s a rookie as a barber.

“When I did Max, it was the first time,” said Latendresse. “He showed great confidence in me.

“I can do whatever they want. I can get a bowl out if they want. I don’t mind.”

Most teams have some sort of playoff ritual involving hair, usually growing beards, as most of the Bruins and several of the Canadiens have done.

And the young players, who make up about half of the Canadiens, are the most into it, although veterans like Patrice Brisebois, Bryan Smolinski and Andrei Markov have had their skulls buzzed too.

“I think there’ll be a couple of guys who stay the way they are, but we got most guys,” said Gorges. “It shows that most guys are willing to do it together.

“The first couple of guys did it and then the others said ‘I’ll do it. too.’ It just shows that guys care about each other. If one guy’s willing to do something, the rest will as well.”

The holdouts include star winger Alex Kovalev, although he told Latendresse he will consider cutting his flowing blond locks if they reach the Stanley Cup final. Latendresse is trying to talk veteran Roman Hamrlik into it.

But Andrei Kostitsyn wants no part of it.

“No – I don’t like short hair. I always wore long hair,” the winger from Belarus said.

READ ALSO:  Ask Adam: Oilers, overpaid players, referees...and a Gretzky-Orr rivalry?

“I think Markov is going to try to change their minds,” said Latendresse. “It took Max a week, so you never know. It might take a month, but maybe they’ll do it.”

What the Canadiens are doing is tame compared to what is done on some junior clubs, whose players dye their hair in wild colours for the post-season.

Bruins defenceman Dennis Wideman said the most extreme he ever saw was a team of teenagers in Ottawa when the Bruins visited there near the end of the season.

“It must have been a midget team that came in for some type of tournament,” Wideman said. “They had professionally done haircuts.

“They had checker boards dyed in their colours. I would never think of doing something like that. The crazy hair tends to come at the younger ages.”

Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau has no problem with his players cutting their hair

“It’s just a way to keep the team together and show their support for each other – I think it’s fun,” he said.

Carbonneau was in less good humour when questioned about captain Saku Koivu, who has been out three weeks with a fractured foot. The coach had told reporters on Wednesday that Koivu had yet to attempt to skate when in fact he had gone for a short skate that day.

Secrecy on injuries during the playoffs is nothing new, but Carbonneau had said before the post-season he would keep the media updated as much as possible on injuries. For the most part, he has done that.

“I don’t know why I should hold a news conference to say that Saku Koivu skated,” he said tersely. “We said since the start that when he feels ready, he’ll try to put on his skates.

“That’s what happened (Wednesday). He skated again (Thursday) and he felt fine. We’ll see how he feels (on Friday).”