The NHL playoffs are just around the corner, which means it’s time to ready our eyes for a drastic increase of facial hair on our television sets.
It’s become standard practice for players to grow beards throughout the NHL playoffs, and to be honest, it makes for some entertaining looks and gives a certain ruggedness to an already rough and tumble competition for the Stanley Cup. Where else do you get poorly groomed facial hair combined with devastating hip checks and game-changing saves?
Before the whiskers begin to creep into places they shouldn’t, let’s take a look at the top ten owners of playoff beards.
10. Scott Hartnell
The boisterous assistant captain in Philly is known for the tireless effort and energy he gives the Flyers on the ice and an amazing facial ensemble. Hartnell’s beard has gone MIA recently, but expect it to come back with a vengeance come playoff time.
9. Kris Draper
Draper was a key component in a number of Red Wings playoff runs and surely everyone got used to the ginger beard look he sported almost yearly during the playoffs. His feisty play screamed red head, while his character, leadership and professionalism were top notch.
8. Zdeno Chara
There is something about adding a beard to an already intimidating beast of a man that makes him even scarier. Sure, he’s listed at 6-foot-9 (off his skates) by the NHL, but there’s something about adding half a foot of beard to his face that makes him more frightening. Oh, and his slapshot is worthy of some shaky knees as well.
7. Tim Thomas
There was a good chance that the return of Thomas’ amazing bearded look, that was so familiar during the Bruins 2010-11 Stanley Cup season when the goaltender earned the Conn Smythe Trophy, was not going to make an appearance during this season’s playoffs. That may have changed when Thomas was traded to the Stars from the Panthers on March. 5. The 39-year is a back-up and the Stars are just barely clinging onto a wild card spot, but we may get to see some bearded action out of the netminder if the Stars can hold on.
6. Radko Gudas
The young Czech defenseman rocks one mean beard and will sport it all season long. But as displayed in the past, his facial growth can extend to ridiculous amounts and it can happen quickly. Who knows how out of control it could possibly become during the playoffs. Protect the women and children.
This has not been the best Red Wings team of recent memory, but they’re still in the hunt for a playoff spot and they’re somehow doing it without beard-touting captain Zetterberg. The Swede had back surgery last month and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season, but his beard has been a memorable part of many playoff runs in the past.
There’s something entertaining about expecting to see a normally clean cut goalie take off his mask to get a squirt of water during a stoppage and being surprised by a mound of facial hair. This has happened to this writer more than once with Giguere. Don’t expect the back-up to see much playing time in the playoffs as Semyon Varlamov will do the bulk of the work, but think back to Giggy’s days with the Ducks and you’ll remember what I’m writing about.
3. Lanny McDonald
It’s time to dig into the archives for the next selection. McDonald was most notably remembered for sporting a moustache that would make Tom Selleck jealous throughout his career, but when the Calgary Flames took the Cup in 1988-89, McDonald’s beard was as red as the Flames logo itself and stood out about as much as his work on the ice.
Whether it was his Stanley Cup run with the Penguins or his time in the ‘City of Brotherly Love,’ Talbot has always let his face go haywire when it comes playoff time. His beards have also gone exceptionally well with a moist, out of control hairdo sticking out of the back of his helmet. Talbot is a veteran on a young Avalanche team bound for the playoffs, so let’s see if his experience in hockey and in playoff beard growing can help the youthful squad out.
1. Rob and Scott Niedermeyer
Surely, these two bros have been mentioned in every hockey article written about beards since 2007 and there’s a reason why. Middle-aged men everywhere tossed our their boxes of Just For Men hoping for a Niedermeyer after they won a Stanley Cup together with the Ducks. They did so while sporting the best pair of salt and pepper beards you’ll ever see. The brothers were class acts in the NHL and their beards will forever be remembered.