By Kyle Shohara
Although the Stanley Cup Playoffs are but two weeks old, the impact of the postseason is already starting to show in the Ducks locker room. Amidst the bruising, swelling and scars that grace the faces and bodies of those still competing for hockey’s ultimate prize is a commitment and dedication to one of the most recognizable traditions in all of sports: the playoff beard.
Embraced by many but not always everyone, it should be noted this Ducks team is going all in. From the young guys like 21-year-old Rickard Rakell and 22-year-old Jiri Sekac, to the veterans like 34-year-old Francois Beauchemin, beards of all shapes, sizes and colors are starting to bloom.
Ducks First Round Beards
One of the more heavily bearded Ducks is 24-year-old Kyle Palmieri, who admits he needs to periodically shave his upper cheeks to prevent his beard from growing into his eyes. “I make sure it’s still functional,” Palmieri says, before gesturing to his neck line. “I also trim it so it doesn’t connect to my chest hair.”
As one who sports a beard year-round, Palmieri paused when asked if his permabeard is a suitable look. “I always have a beard,” he says while giving it a scratch, “so I hope I have the confidence to rock it.”
|“I started trimming it on the sides, and then my beard trimmer broke. After that, I got lazy and stopped.” |
The playoff beard, he says, “is definitely something you have to take pride in. It’s a fun little tradition and something people look forward to doing.”
Palmieri adds that his sleeping habits can also affect the upkeep of the beard. “I sleep at home with a fuzzy blanket,” he says, “so my most embarrassing thing is when I don’t look at the mirror before I leave the house, there is a ton of grey fuzzies that my beard picks up. That’s not how you want to look when you go out in public.”
Not all the Ducks started fresh immediately following season’s end. Rugged forward Patrick Maroon had a full beard by the time the Ducks had officially reached the postseason, a decision he says was made because of a mechanical malfunction.
“I started trimming it on the sides, and then my beard trimmer broke,” Maroon says. “After that, I got lazy and stopped.”
Maroon has perhaps the thickest growth of the flock. Fully engulfing his face and neck, Maroon’s beard isn’t just one grown at this time of year. “I take a lot of pride in my playoff beard, but I also take a lot of pride in growing it during the year, too,” he says. “I had a good one going at the beginning of the season. Playoff beards are a lot of fun, and it’s good to get the fans to look at someone else.”
Although Maroon says his girlfriend approves of his beard, there’s one family member who wishes he was clean-shaven. “My mom doesn’t like it, but hey, that’s okay,” he says. “I think I look pretty good in a beard, but that’s just me.”
Itchiness doesn’t bother Maroon, who says he doesn’t grow anything more than stubble during the hot and humid summer months in his native St. Louis. “I block it out,” he says, of the itchiness. “The only thing is … there might be some food or drinks in it.”
Unlike Palmieri, who says shaving the throat and upper cheeks is necessary for staying somewhat recognizable, Maroon is going for the hands-off approach. “I’m not doing anything to it,” he says. “I’m just going to let it grow and see what happens. I hope we go a long way so I can keep growing this all the way through.”
For 22-year-old rookie Sekac, whom the Ducks acquired in February from the Montreal Canadiens for Devante Smith-Pelly, the playoff beard isn’t exactly a new experience. Before signing with the Canadiens last July, Sekac played overseas with HC Lev Praha of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). It was during his team’s lengthy postseason run when Sekac grew a beard of his own, a red-colored specimen that hugs his jawline.
|"I get a few chirps here and there, but they’re obviously just jealous. That’s something I’ll take. I need to take care of the younger kids.” |
“In every league, guys keep their beards,” he says. “We had a pretty long run last year in the KHL [he played 21 games], so that was my first time growing it out. It’s funny when you look at the guys, especially if it’s a long run.”
Like Maroon, Sekac started growing his beard well before the playoffs. Laziness, he says, was the main culprit. “This is probably going on about a month,” he says, pointing to his beard. “I just kept it going, but this is what it is. I don’t like looking like a little baby, so I always keep a little something on my face.”
Sekac made sure to sneak in a good-natured jab at his Swedish teammates for their lack of hair growth. Sekac is a native of the Czech Republic, as is veteran Tomas Fleischmann, who sports a modest beard with hints of orange and red. Sekac immediately blurted out “Swedes!” when asked to scan the locker room for those who struggle mightily in the beard category.
Jakob Silfverberg, 24, says the shade thrown his way is out of pure envy. “I get a few chirps here and there, but they’re obviously just jealous,” he says with a smile. “That’s something I’ll take. I need to take care of the younger kids.”
The Gavle, Sweden native was one of Anaheim’s standout players in the First Round sweep over the Winnipeg Jets. Silfverberg ranks second on the club in postseason scoring with six points (2g/4a) and earned five points combined in Games 3 and 4. He also has a team-high plus-5 rating.
Silfverberg’s normally striking mug is primed for a long postseason run. “That’s what I need, and that’s what we’re aiming for,” he says. “It’s something that doesn’t come along easily on this face.”