The Stanley Cup Playoffs have begun, but more importantly, NHL players’ Stanley Cup Beards are making their debut on the 2018-19 post-season stage.
Players all across the league will wait until their eventual victory or elimination before shaving a hair off their chinny-chin-chins. It doesn’t matter if their beards are sparse, luscious, or nonexistent–it doesn’t matter how much we want some of them shave it all off and save us the pain,
Andre–players around the league believe that not shaving during the playoffs will bring their team luck.
Hockey Hall of Famer and six-time Stanley Cup winner Bryan Trottier narrated the origin story of the playoff beard superstition in a cleverly cartoon-animated video by the NHL. Trottier traces the superstition back to his playoff debut with the New York Islanders.
The year was 1975. Bryan Trottier, the Islanders’ first-round pick in 1974, had just been eliminated in the WCHJL playoffs with the Lethbridge Broncos when he got an unexpected call from Islanders General Manager Bill Torrey.
The Islanders were down 3-0 in Round Two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Islanders wanted to call up 18-year-old Trottier. “I said ‘yes! I’m in,'” Trottier recalled.
Trottier’s arrival in the Islanders locker room was an odd one. His new teammates declared to him that as a team, they were collectively going to stop shaving.
“When I walked in, all the guys said, ‘We’re not shaving.'” Trottier followed suit.
Not all beards are created equal. Some of Trottier’s teammates–he named JP Parise, Jude Drouin, and Billy Harris–were at Daniel Winnik-levels of facial hair growth.
“Me, I’m eighteen years old,” Trottier said. “I got like eight whiskers on my whole chin.”
The power of the playoff beards propelled the Islanders to four straight wins over the Penguins to win the series. The team attributed their turn of fortunes to their beards and that belief carried to later generations of the NHL.
The Islanders eventually lost in Game Seven of the next round that year. However, this didn’t tarnish the legend of the beard. “It was really fun to be a part of that and see that this lore of ‘not shaving’ actually worked and gave them a little bit of success,” Trottier said.
“That’s why guys today are growing those beards,” he continued. “They believe that’s going to be the luck that drives them through those the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”
The NHL tweeted the video on Tuesday and the Washington Capitals Twitter account chimed in with their best beard of 2017-18.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 9, 2019
The quality of the beards this postseason will doubtless differ. (The Capitals’ collection last season included Andre Burakovsky’s “You Tried” scruff, Nicklas Backstrom’s unexpectedly-ginger effort, and Braden Holtby’s lumberjack-worthy mane.) But even when the beards are weak, the tradition holds strong, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon.
The regular season is dead. Long live the beard.
Headline image: @NHL
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