Move over playoff beards…there is a new facial hair trend in town, and although a bit controversial in appearance, its purpose is not at all questionable.
The month of November is now known as Movember, during which men practice the fine art of mustachery with the goal of raising money and awareness for prostate cancer, and other cancers that affect men.
Mustaches may have been a hip trend in the past, but the past is probably where the terms “handlebar,” “caterpillar,” and “horseshoe” best belong when it relates to facial hair. Perhaps this is exactly why growing mustaches is the perfect way to bring attention to a very worthy cause.
“It’s more about wearing this stupid, ugly thing on the street, and someone walks up looking and staring at me and I say ‘Hey, there’s a story behind it,’” says defenseman Willie Mitchell
, who is one of a handful of Kings participating in the mustache and awareness growing campaign.
“One of my best friends in Minnesota (Wild defenseman), Nick Schultz, unfortunately his father passed away a couple years ago, so every year he gets the whole team in Minnesota to support Movember and he actually does a big party for the team because obviously it’s something close to home for him,” says Mitchell, who is supporting Movember for the first time. “So I’m supporting it for him, and my brother-in-law had a good friend that passed away from cancer in the last year, so I’m doing it for both those guys.”
Defenseman Drew Doughty
, who is growing his second Movember mustache, suffered the loss of his paternal grandfather to prostate cancer, when Doughty was just a toddler.
“First of all it’s a good thing to do, raising money for a good cause, second of all, it’s a good excuse to grow a mustache – can’t usually do that on a normal day,” says Doughty. “I don’t have many memories of my grandfather just because I was so young, but I know he’s proud of me and he’d be really proud that I’m growing this mustache for him.”
Similar to Mitchell and Doughty, center Mike Richards
is also supporting Movember for personal reasons, as Richards has an uncle who is currently battling cancer.
“Anytime you can bring awareness and raise money for any cause, especially one that affects everybody in some way or another, it’s always a good thing,” says Richards.
Richards is taking his Movember campaign a step further and will donate $1 for every new Twitter follower he receives -- @MRichie_10 – during the month of November. Richards’ donation will also be matched by Kings’ sponsor, Exemplis Corp., whose brands include SitOnIt Seating and IDEON.
“Anytime you can use your status to benefit a good cause like this one it’s always good,” says Richards, who is participating in Movember for the second year.
Aside from this specific month of mustache growing, there is an overwhelming desire from the Kings players as well as the entire hockey community when it comes to supporting the fight against cancer, as evidenced by the League-wide Hockey Fights Cancer program that runs throughout the month of October.
“Cancer affects everybody in the communities that you’re in,” says Richards. “Any chance that I get, and with hockey in general, any chance that a hockey player gets or any athlete gets to raise money we jump at the opportunity.”
“We’ve all been touched by people with cancer in our lives and anything we can do to help the cause is just phenomenal,” says right wing Kevin Westgarth
, who, along with teammates Jonathan Bernier
, Kyle Clifford
, Trevor Lewis
, Alec Martinez
and Dustin Penner
, is also growing a mustache for Movember.
The philanthropic spirit of the players isn’t something that’s always part of the limelight – particularly during a grueling season where injuries, contract disputes and scoring droughts are all but sewn into the headlines – but it’s definitely something they like to exhibit when they can.
“I feel like if you’re a professional athlete and you’re on TV every day, you have a likeness, and if you don’t use that to benefit others, then you’re missing the boat and you’re missing a powerful tool that you have,” says Mitchell, whose wife teases him about looking like Paul Teutul from the reality television series American Chopper.
Doughty is also hoping to catch the attention of the younger generation, not only their charitably giving parents.
“When kids see me growing a mustache, which isn’t my usual appearance, they’ll probably wonder why I’m growing it and they’ll find out that I’m growing it for a good cause,” says Doughty, whose mustache helps to draw attention from the shiner around his left eye. “Hopefully that makes them, when they get a little older, give back to the community and do a little charity work.”
To join the Kings’ mustache-growing effort or donate on behalf of a player, fans can go to LAKings.com/Movember for all the information.
“Everybody knows at least a few people and it’s kind of the whole pay-it-forward thing,” says Westgarth, partaking in Movember for the second time. “You tell three people and they tell three people, it’s exponential and it grows.”
Just like mustaches.