[Ed.'s Note: With the NHL playoffs kicking off tonight, many players will be setting aside their razors for the next few months, hoping to harness the power of the legendary playoff beard. We could wax poetic about the face fuzz for days, but we brought in an expert. Enter Jack Passion (left), the reigning Natural Beard Champion of the World and author of the soon-to-be-released Rockin' the Beard.]
To the Macedonians, there was no greater shame than disgracing the beard. Only upon the anticipation of close combat did their leader, Alexander III, order his men to shave, for "there is not a better handle to take a man than the beard." The legacy of the NHL playoff beard harkens back to these ancient traditions of war and this unfortunate truth:
We shave upon defeat and humiliation.
Warriors have long been associated with facial hair—the Vikings (the ones from Scandinavia, not Minnesota) come to mind, as do the ancient Greeks, pirates and Civil War re-enactors. It's a well-known fact that Beast is more intimidating than Man, so growing facial hair is a means for us to undergo a bestial transformation, thereby bettering ourselves for battle.
If we need proof of the Samsonite power of the playoff beard, look no further than last year. The Pens? Out in round one. Perhaps the real reason coach Michel Therrien gave Sidney Crosby a break on Sunday's game was to give Crosby an early start on growth. And by "early start" I mean a bottle of glue and Scott Niedermayer's bathroom sink.
Last year, Niedermayer brought the playoff beard to new heights and Anaheim took it all. Combine that veteran-grey, salt-and-pepper mane with his vacant, focused stare and you get a guy who has no reservations about cutting you down with a cross check when the ref isn't looking. For victory!
But, this year, the Playoff Beard will be defined with two words: Mike Commodore. Some people say grace, we say: "The redder the beard, the better the beard." The hirsute Ottawa blueliner has so much fire inside it's coming out his face. He has, truly, the pinnacle pate in puckland!
These are only a couple of the many great beards we'll see sprout over the next couple months. But I know what you're thinking: Jack, can I help out my team with some growth of my own? The answer, of course, is yes … that is, if you have the dedication.
Your beard will itch; Women will point and laugh (just be glad it's at your face); but hockey fans everywhere will completely understand (Aren't we great?).
The ladies? They're just jealous. In the animal kingdom, it is the male that most often carries the plumage. Strut like a peacock while you can. All good things come to an end, and when your team is eliminated, you will be defaced!
Whether your end product looks like Crosby or Niedermayer, it doesn't matter (unless you're at the liquor store). Patchy or puffy, grow it out. This is your chance to be part of an historic battle, to go to the playoffs with your team and to prove that hockey fans are the most loyal fans. Baseball can have its puny goatees and Van Dykes. The fastest game on ice has so much more.
Gentleman, start your beards. Because let's face it: Only losers shave.
Want more of Jack Passion? See what's hiding in his beard at JackPassion.com