Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison will be blogging for NHL.com periodically throughout the Stanley Cup Final. In this edition, he talks about his beard, which has become a storyline during his team's long postseason run.
TAMPA -- My beard has gotten a lot of attention during our run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so I figured today for my blog I'm just going to lay it all out there to explain to you the evolution of the beard and what it means, and has done to me and for me.
The reason I'm doing this is I'm getting so many compliments on my beard, and even people who want to touch it. I've walked outside signing autographs for fans and I've had teenage guys who want to grab it. That's, well, interesting.
It's quite different from, say, Andrej Sustr, who I think has the worst beard on our team. I can't even call what he has on his face a beard. It's pretty patchy and symmetrical on both sides, where he grows his hairs. He has this one gray hair that's the longest of them all on his chin. It's quite the dynamic.
I kind of get it, though, because growing up, in high school and even after high school, there wasn't a whole lot of manliness going on my body. It wasn't until the first year in college, maybe the second year in college, when I was around 23 years old that a beard line started coming in. It just developed from there.
I remember in junior, we went deep in the playoffs all three years, and I barely had anything. I had basically nothing going on for a beard. I was 18, 19 and 20, but a lot of my buddies on the team had full grown beards. So one of my close friends told me he'd put me on his shaving plan to get this thing going for me.
He was making a joke, but definitely as I turned pro I was able to grow facial hair and I always say it is because of him.
Now it's long. I'll admit I started it a bit early, in March, just because the last time I was in the playoffs it didn't go so well, so it's one of those things you switch up. So, yes, I cheated by starting my playoff beard before the playoffs, but it's fortunate that we've had a long run and it has had ample time to grow.
Coming into the playoffs it was more than a 5 o'clock shadow, but this is definitely the longest I've had it. Usually in the summer I don't shave too much. I just let it go, but never has it reached this length.
To be honest, I don't mind it. I'm fortunate because it hasn't really gotten itchy. It's pretty comfortable and doesn't give me a whole lot of problems. I don't use any products in it to grow it or color it. There is no Just for Men. I only just trim it around the upper lip so I can eat some food and that's about it. But I absolutely get food stuck in my beard. All the time, really.
I'm usually out eating with some buddies and we have made it clear that if something is there don't make a big deal out of it, just let me know. But really, it happens all the time. Food and smoothies are the worst.
The one thing I don't have is a girlfriend or a wife, so I have nobody at home telling me I have to get rid of this thing. I only have to care about myself. I only have to worry about myself.
But whenever this run in the playoffs is all over, and I'm hoping it ends with me raising the Stanley Cup over my head, I will shave it off, go completely clean-shaven. It'll probably make me look five years younger.
Author: Jason Garrison | Special to NHL.com