April 17, 2015

Playoff Beards

Ah yes, the playoff beard. One of hockey's craziest traditions, and one that I frankly don't understand. I mean, if I were so lucky to be immortalized in hockey history by winning the Stanley Cup, I certainly wouldn't want all photographic and video evidence showing me looking like some wild man. No offense to Mike Commodore, of course.

A common question I get is where did the playoff beard superstition-turned-tradition originate?

I've never got a 100% for sure answer on this one, but it seems to be a relatively recent trend. The New York Islanders dynasty of the early 1980s featured several players who grew or maintained beards come playoff time. Ken Morrow, Butch Goring, John Tonelli, Clark Gillies, and Gord Lane all had big, itchy, black beards. It was said to be a good luck charm, and it delivered four consecutive Stanley Cup championships.

Scanning through photos of Stanley Cup champions in the years past, it is pretty hard to find any player with a beard, even back in the 1800s. So the Islanders suggestion seems to hold great merit.

But perhaps the playoff beard, which is now crossing over to NBA playoffs, originated in another sport entirely. Bjorn Borg superstitiously grew his beard prior to Wimbledon. Borg had five straight Wimbledon victories from 1976 through 1980 in that time.

By the way, a must-see website is, of course, PlayoffBeard.com.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seeing as 15 teams which grow beards are eliminated from the playoffs, you'd think this tradition would die.