I’m not sure if this is perverse or merely strange, but the National Hockey League playoffs are being sponsored by Edge Shave Gel. In the playoffs, a lot of players stop shaving until their team either wins or is knocked out. NHL.com has a special Web page on playoff beards at http://www.nhl.com/edge — there’s even a photo gallery of fine beards attached to hockey players in this year’s playoffs.
There are a few possible reasons that players grow beards during the playoffs. One is that once you start winning, you don’t want to change anything out of superstition that you’ll start losing if you change something. Former player Gary Doernhofer is quoted giving another reason:
“I know I wore a beard against the Russians. There weren’t many beards among my teammates which is funny because they can make you look mean.”
Given what a perennial power the Russian (Soviet) teams were in the 1970s, us North Americans needed all the help we could get.
Players sometimes grow beards during the playoffs in other pro sports here in the states. Football and baseball are the two main ones I can think of, except for baseball’s New York Yankees, whose owner enforces a clean-cut grooming code. (The Yankees haven’t won the World Series in a few seasons now, while the less-strict Boston Red Sox have won two of the last four. Coincidence? You decide.) It doesn’t seem to be much as of a thing in pro basketball, although I can’t really say because I’m not watching those playoffs even though the home team is through to the semifinals now.
So, fans of fuzzy faces have a possible reason for paying a little attention to the players during the playoffs, even if they otherwise don’t care for sports.
In other news, my nephew (who has a pretty good beard, himself) is no longer allowed to go to Red Wings playoff games, as he went today and they lost. Seriously, the dude has been to more hockey games this year than I have been in my entire life. And I went to a university with a good hockey team, too, so I could’ve gone cheaply but somehow didn’t. (Maybe I was studying or something.) I think it’s cool that my nephew gets to go to hockey games, being that I’ve been a hockey fan since my mom baptized me with Hockey Night in Canada (Beliveau! Richard! Cournoyer! Go Habs Go!) when I was a little shaver.