When I was in the seventh grade, shaving was the dream. I had a stiff upper lip, but little hair on it, so I was out of luck.
One by one my older friends began the whisker disappearing act and although the thorns on my chinny, chin chin were few in numbers, by grade eight I was ready to put razor to face as well.
It’s funny how something I once desired so badly is now the enemy.
Razors aside, it’s time to start the transformation from clean shaven to hairy, smooth to gruff, regular season to playoffs.
To really kick things off this post-season, I headed down to JD’s Barbershop in Gastown on Monday and got a hot shave from Judah, the straight razor king.
Heading in all I could think of was the Rabbit of Seville, that classic Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon where Bugs Bunny plays barber to Elmer Fudd giving him a comedic straight razor shave.
It was nothing like that, although I may have heard Judah humming Bugs’ tune: How about a nice close shave, Teach your whiskers to behave, Lots of lather lots of soap, Please hold still don't be a dope, Now we're ready for the scraping, There's no use to try escaping, Yell & scream & rant & rave, It's no use you need a shave.
Long story short, the Jory Beard is ready to grow for another Vancouver Canucks playoff run. As it is every season, a ZZ Top chin carpet is the goal, but this year my inspiration is Zach Galifianakis, the bearded one from The Hangover.
I’m far from alone in striving for beard magic, a lap of the Canucks locker room revealed some truths about just important this hockey ritual is.
At opposite ends of the spectrum are Steve Bernier and Henrik Sedin. Although they sit a mere two stalls from one another, this pair is worlds apart when it comes to one of the finest traditions in sports.
Bernier, clean shaven as of Monday and “ready to rock,” knows that a lengthy beard is an indication of post-season success. In other words, bring it on.
”I just want it to be as long as possible and pretty much as ugly as possible,” ribbed Bernier. “I don’t care about the look, I just want it to be there and long because it means we’re winning and have been for a few rounds.
”It’s silly, but it’s a big deal for me, I don’t know, it’s maybe a mental thing. It helps everyone be focused and know that you still have a job to do every day and if you do it right, your beard is going to grow longer and longer. It’s weird, but it’s just something fun to do. “
Henrik, by no means playing devil’s advocate, is almost as wishy-washy on playoff beards as he is on who should win the Hart this year. (#hankforhart...)
Sporting a strong red goatee and well intended beard, a Sedin classic, Henrik revealed that he and brother Daniel will each shave once more before Game 1, and they may even go as far as mixing in hair cuts as well.
After that, like the Hart Trophy voting, it’s up in the air.
”I don’t care too much about it,” said Hank, in reference to the age-old post-season false face. “Some guys do it, some guys don’t, I might shave during the playoffs too, who knows, it’s not anything I worry about. I just know I don’t want a big beard, not at all, it’s itchy.”
”That it is,” laughed Tanner Glass, the only player already rocking a full filament farm who doesn’t intend on shaving it before the playoffs.
”The playoffs last all year long for me so no clean shave, this is it, but this is pretty clean, I’ve got the sides trimmed up, trimmed the beard a bit and even got a hair cut.”
Glass’ business in the front, party in the back hair style proves that he’s willing to go against the grain and clearly that includes the un-written rule of shaving at least three days prior to the first playoff game.
Still, dating back to his NCAA days at Dartmouth College, Glass has always been first in line to keep playoff tradition alive. He’s done a Mohawk, died his hair blond and put streaks in, one year his team even went with all mullets – no, that’s not where his mullet originated.
”I really think the beards are great. It’s tough to get every guy to do it though, some guys get itchy at night and they don’t like how it feels on their pillow, or their wives don’t like it, or they’ve got little ones that don’t like to be snuggled with a prickly face, but I’m all for it, it’s for the greater good.”
Every player will surely give it their best, at least for the opening round, before shaving, trimming or styling and Darcy Hordichuk, one of the self-proclaimed best beard growers on the team, is looking for quantity over quality with his man mop.
”It’s all about quantity. The guy with the most quantity is probably the most mature on the team,” said Hordichuk, rubbing a bristly four days of growth, before adding, tongue-in-cheek, that there aren’t many who can compete with his level of beard brilliance.
”As you’d expect, there are a lot of guys who can’t grow beards, but I don’t hold anything against them, that’s just the way life is sometimes when you’re handed a weak hand and you’ve got to play it.
”Some guys have been growing it for a couple of weeks, they’ve had to, Mason has been going for a couple of years and he’s got a little bit of peach fuzz there, but when he matures into a man he’ll be able to take part.”
Hordichuk’s final shave is scheduled for Thursday, but don’t expect him to pull a Sedin or Glass and cut his hair as well, especially not like Glass.
”I think the ratings would go down and that wouldn’t be good for escrow, so for now we’ll just stick to the beards and let Tanner have that.”