Without a doubt, one of the best traditions that comes along with the NHL playoffs is the playoff beard. The exact history and root of the tradition is actually unknown.
The playoff beard tradition supposedly began with the New York Islanders’ dynasty in the 1980s, though why they did it is up for debate. Hall of Famer Denis Potvin explained the team would have to play four games in five nights at some points, so the beards developed naturally. Another theory was that two Swedes on the team, Anders Kallur and Stefan Persson, were replicating the custom of tennis player Björn Borg who grew a beard during Wimbeldon.
Some players like Chris Pronger, always the contrarian, don’t abide by the tradition. However, most players at least attempt to grow a playoff beard, even if it’s a futile venture. Without further adieu, here are the best beards of the 2013-14 playoffs, eliminated and still growing.
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit
On one hand, it is highly unlikely that Zetterberg managed to grow that “playoff beard” in the short time that Detroit was in the playoffs. However, his beard growing abilities are well known, and are the stuff of legend. I can only imagine what it would look like if Detroit hadn’t been eliminated.
Jordie Benn, Dallas
Similar to Zetterberg, it is unlikely that Benn was able to grow this beard in the time Dallas was in the playoffs. At the same time, you have to appreciate the light brown, almost orange beard. Similar to the Dallas Stars, big things are expected from him in the future.
Brent Burns, San Jose
The evolution of Brent Burns’ facial hair has been well chronicled, and his performance in the 2013-14 playoffs was equally impressive. While the Sharks were a significant disappointment, Burns did anything but disappoint in the facial hair department.
Kyle Brodziak, Minnesota
After a disappointing regular season, Brodziak redeemed himself a bit in the playoffs. He was able to chip in 6 points in 13 games after putting up just 24 points in 81 games in the regular season. His beard saw similar improvements.
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles
What Drew Doughty lacks in sheer volume, he makes up with shape. His playoff beard may not be the fullest, but there is potential for a soul patch that could rival that of Apollo Anton Ohno. We saw a strong performance from him two years ago, and expect even more if the Kings advance.
PK Subban, Montreal
PK Subban’s personality is polarizing to many, but there is no denying that he is one of the most electric, exciting players in the league. The above picture displays his sometimes polarizing personality, and an impressively full chinstrap.
Brandon Bollig, Chicago
From a distance, it almost appears that Bollig drew his playoff beard on with a sharpie. It’s that dark. Alas, Bollig does not need to resort to beard-enhancing substances to grow a nice beard; he has the natural talent. He is pictured with fellow beard aficionado, Kyle Brodziak (see above).
Patrick Maroon, Anaheim
A relative newcomer to the NHL, Maroon has made his living with his large frame that is very effective in the front of the net. Equally as impressive is his large playoff beard, which boasts significant coverage of his face with few weak spots.
Brian Boyle, New York Rangers
On one hand, Brian Boyle’s lack of volume and full coverage does not scream “playoff beard that has been going two rounds strong.” However, he merits inclusion on this list because of his striking resemblance to a pirate, Musketeer, and Guy Fawkes mask. If Boyle were to go rogue, he could possibly join the group Anonymous, and not even need to buy a mask.
Zdeno Chara, Boston
Without a playoff beard, Zdeno Chara is still one of the most intimidating players in NHL history. But, add in a full, well-rounded beard, and Chara’s presence goes to an entirely new level. Would you get in this guy’s way? Don’t think so.
Marty St. Louis, New York Rangers
Channeling his inner Scott Niedermayer, St. Louis boasts an impressive beard that includes a mix of gray. The salt-and-pepper beard is reserved for the most grizzled, hard working NHL veterans, and St. Louis is no exception.
Who Has the Best Playoff Beard?
It is impossible to crown a champion of playoff facial hair at this juncture. However, the eventual winner will likely be from the above group. It all depends upon which teams advance to the finals. My money is on Zdeno Chara, as the Bruins have a workable path to the finals, where Chara’s proven his beard growing abilities before. Would you mess with this guy?
Bill Schoeninger is a Philadelphia Flyers writer and current Boston University student studying business. Coming to THW from Hometown Hockey, Bill follows and writes about the Flyers, Boston University Terriers, and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @BSchoeninger17