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The Power of the 'Stache

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

Just as teammate Martin St. Louis has poked holes in the long-time NHL theory that size matters, Lightning right wing Ryan Malone is working diligently to restore truth to that notion...with his mustache.

Always a jovial place, the situation inside the Lightning locker room has gotten a little more “hairy” in recent weeks, as Malone and several teammates including Nate Thompson, Teddy Purcell, Dan Ellis and Mike Smith have dumped their razors with the same amount of ease as they do pucks to celebrate Movember, which raises funds and awareness for prostate cancer.

The NHL’s league-wide initiative, which began November 1, encourages players on all 30 teams to sport mustaches throughout the entire month to support the cause on behalf of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

“It’s all for a good cause,” Malone said. “It’s fun and it’s something myself and some of the guys wanted to do. It allows us to laugh at ourselves a little bit.”

Thompson’s goal is to get his “a little more greasy.”

Purcell refers to his as a “dirty one.”

Smith even drew a comparison between a grizzly Dan Ellis and Ben Stiller’s character as a nursing home attendant in the movie Happy Gilmore.

As for Malone?

“That one’s pretty thick,” Purcell said. “He could sweep the streets with that thing.”

However unappealing – “My wife thinks I look like a dork,” Ellis added – the mustache never fails to pay “lip service” to team unity, whether it’s in support of a cause as worthy as the current initiative or merely a superstitious display of what many Lightning players hope to turn into playoff beards come late April.

Yet, limiting the blades to the ice and not one’s face serves as no easy task.

“Mine is a little straggly,” Malone said. “It feels a little weird at first, and I’ve never grown a mustache before. It kind of tickles my nose.”

While Malone would likely benefit from the occasional trim with a pair of scissors or even a beard trimmer, Smith had other plans for what has transformed the locker room into a chic and exclusive club.

“I was thinking of treating mine with Just For Men to get it a little darker,” Smith said. “Blonde Beauty is what they call me sometimes, so I’d like to darken it up and get it to come in real thick. Make it look real classy.”

With almost two full weeks under their belts, the Lightning’s motley crew of stache-donning stars have seemingly put as much thought into what style to adopt as they have into each’s next shootout move.

Thompson and Ellis both expressed interest in displaying a fu Manchu, while Purcell entertained the idea of the pencil-thin style. Malone’s mustache, however, served as the most suitable to be formed into a handle bar, drawing comparisons from teammates to Tom Selleck and Hockey Hall-of-Famer Lanny McDonald.

“It’s very thick and red,” Smith added. “That thing is just dynamite.”

Fans are encouraged to join in the fun, while also supporting a worthy cause, by submitting pictures of their own mustaches to the Lightning’s official Facebook page. Those interested in learning more about Movember or making a donation can also visit Much of the proceeds in the United States will go the Prostate Cancer Foundation and to Livestrong, the organization founded by Lance Armstrong to help defeat cancer.

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