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Grow One For the Team

by Deborah Lew / Los Angeles Kings

You’ve heard about them, you’ve seen them, heck – you may even have one. It’s NHL Playoff season and that means playoff beards are all the rage. Seriously.

If you notice anything about the photos from the night a team wins the Stanley Cup, it could be that many, if not all, the players look like they may have just returned from a trip to the Amazon, where they were clearly starved of the tiniest modern conveniences…like razors.

Either that or they just stepped off the set of the next Geico commercial.

As the tradition goes, a player stops shaving when his team enters the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and does not shave until his team is eliminated, or, in the best case scenario, wins the Stanley Cup. It is only logical then, that the team that wins the Stanley Cup will not have shaved in approximately two months.

The playoff beard is a hockey tradition, which began in the 1980s by the New York Islanders, who won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983.

One theory is that the Islanders played multiple games in a very short time span, and that shaving simply fell by the wayside, while another theory suggests that the playoff beard was a way to show team unity and forced players to think about the playoffs upon first glancing into the mirror in the morning.

There are many different variations of the rules applied to playoff beards. Many beards are started the day the regular season ends, and others begin as soon as a team clinches a playoff berth. Most believe that beards cannot be trimmed or groomed during the playoffs, but some people may opt for a trim after a game is lost.

In 2003, when the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim met the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final, it was well known that Anaheim goalie J.S. Giguere had quite a hatred for his beard, although he grew it anyway. When Anaheim lost to New Jersey in Game 7, Giguere immediately proceeded to the locker room to shave his beard, before coming back onto the ice to accept the Conn Smyth Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.

In 2010, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, chose to grow a playoff ‘mullet’ in addition to a beard after being criticized the year before for his inability to grow a substantial amount of facial hair. Kane was only 21 years old in 2010 when Chicago became Stanley Cup Champion.

Aside from the NHL, the tradition of the playoff beard is kept by minor leagues, as well as collegiate and high school teams in North America, has spread to leagues in Europe, and is practiced by many fans in support of their teams in the playoffs.

In 2009, CENERGY, a sports marketing company, launched the NHL Beard-A-Thon, which allows fans to grown playoff beards while raising money for charity. Since its inception, over 25,000 beard growers have raised over $1 million for non-profit organizations.

The Los Angeles Kings have participated in the Beard-A-Thon since the inaugural season, with all profits going to the Kings Care Foundation, the Kings’ award-winning non-profit entity.

Last season, when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, over $52,000 was raised through the Beard-A-Thon initiative by players, staff, and fans who chose to ‘grow one for the team,’ as the slogan goes.

Kings left winger Dustin Penner, who drew high praise for his thick brush during the 2012 playoffs, is serving as the official spokesman for the Kings Beard-A-Thon this year.

“Any time you have a chance, especially when you’re in a position that we’re in as professional athletes, to do something with a charity, any charities, it’s a lot of fun and it’s specifically a lot of fun who get to give back to people who need it,” Penner said.

Penner has grown a playoff beard during each of his five post-season appearances, and prior to winning the Stanley Cup last year with Los Angeles, also won it in 2007 with Anaheim.

Fans who wish to participate in the LA Kings Beard-A-Thon can go to to sign up. In addition, at Fan Fest and in-arena during Games 3 and 4 at STAPLES Center, the Kings will have face painters available to paint beards, and a green screen where fans can have their photo taken as part of the Kings bench in the 2012 Playoffs, each for a $10 donation to the Kings Care Foundation.

Go ahead. Everybody’s doing it.
Twitter: @by_DeborahLew

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