It’s time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs which means that one of the strangest traditions in hockey is about to take hold of the faces of millions of Canadian and American men. The Playoff Beard, a tradition in which players on teams who are competing in the playoffs do not shave their faces while they are competing for Lord Stanley’s Cup which has gradually expanded to include male fans capable of growing facial hair as well.
It was supposedly started by members of the New York Islanders during their dynasty in which they won four consecutive Stanley Cups (1980-1983) and appeared in a fifth straight final. Since players all want to win and those great Islanders teams won a record 19 consecutive playoff series the tradition caught on. Sometimes there are adaptations to this tradition including a notable one by former Hart Trophy and Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane who by his own admission in interviews struggles to grow a beard. Instead, Kane grows a mullet during the playoffs. Since Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks have won two cups since this mullet decision it may be fair to say it has worked.
What makes this odd tradition even weirder is despite its origins in arguably North America’s smallest major sport it has caught on in other leagues. One notable occurrence of this being for the 2013 Boston Red Sox who after finishing last in the American League East in 2012 with a record of 69-93 won the division with a 97-65 win-loss record and even more surprisingly the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals that October in six games. So if your male friends and family start to look like they haven’t touched a razor in a while its because the team they root for is winning. It may not be fun to get close to their face especially if they only grow prickly stubble but it is all for the silver trophy that weighs 35 pounds. We will all shave later I promise.