Mutton chops, the Van Dyke, the Hollywood, the Fu Manchu, the Zappa, the Chin Strap, the Soul Patch. Why is facial hair pandering in every sport BESIDES the NHL? I traversed deep into the forest of beards, and this is what I found.
In most professional sports, bizarre facial hair receives its own headline, sometimes its own cult following, and if you leave it unkempt for long enough (and are enough of an attention whore) it will even gain its own catch phrase that overshadows the athlete himself. Honestly, with the amount of attention facial hair receives, it would be less obvious if athletes just shaved, “Someone please look at me!” into their faces. However, in the NHL, the only facial hair story is if you are baby smooth with a face absent of a thick, luxurious thicket of manliness on your face. (Editorial note: Don’t use the phrase “thicket of manliness” ever again.)
As a lover of the NBA, I was always fascinated by how much attention sports writers and others of their ilk would pay to the beards, goatees, and whatever Adam Morrison called that thing on his upper lip.
The NBA is a league where role players like Drew Gooden are known by all fans, not because of on court heroics, sterling reputation for hard work, or even an impressive skill set (not to say he doesn’t possess some of those), but instead, because sometimes the dude grows his goatee out and dyes it silly colors. The NBA is a league based so much on individual characters and stars, that when people think of Baron Davis, they don’t think of a man who is perpetually out of shape coming to training camp and notoriously hard to coach. Instead, they imagine a man who hides delicious Peeps in his beard and allows disadvantaged school children to hunt for them on Easter morning.
The NFL, America’s “manliest sport,” is no better. Ryan Fitzpatrick has a fairly standard beard, yet somehow it has become the stuff of legends. It’s as if all NFL fans know in their hearts that Fitzy’s beard, much like the Biblical Samson’s luscious locks, is the source of all his strength. It’s not ludicrous to think that Fitzy’s beard may even garner a few MVP votes if the Bills continue on this Cinderella path.
And don’t get me started on the MLB and their obsession with what I am still not entirely convinced isn’t a god damn prop beard. He at least dyed it. He at most bought it from a gypsy woman with a glass eye, and it endowed him with a 98 mph four-seamer but cursed him with the world’s most annoying personality.
Then, like a vision in the desert, there is ice hockey. The home of the playoff beard. A place where the fictional character Ogie Ogilthorpe is a legitimately believable character. A place where not having a beard is more of a story than having one. (We’re looking at you Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. We too can’t wait until you hit puberty. Also, no one tell him I said that.)
So without further ado, your NHL Facial Hair Roundup.
5. Cal Clutterbuck
When Cal Clutterbuck isn’t tying women to train tracks, or waxing his mustache, he is playing right wing for the Minnesota Wild. There is something very classic, yet wildly unsettling, about his mustache. Will his mustache, in all its paternal strength, tell those kids down the block to stop picking on you? Or will Dudley Do-Right have to save you from it at the last minute? The mustache is a true Wild Card and rounds out our top five.
4. Mike Commodore
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s beard went through high school with a picture of Mike Commodore’s beard in its locker. In 2006, his beard set the gold standard for sports beards. Play was repeatedly stopped because the puck would get lost in it (or so the legend says.) But shortly thereafter, he sheared his beautiful wool (and we can only assume made it into a beautiful wig for a poor sickly ginger child.) Ends up, the stories of it being the source of his strength are true, and after he lost the beard, he was seen wasting away on middling teams like the Blue Jackets. There is still hope, though, that maybe upon returning to a contender with the Red Wings, he will grow it back and once again find his source of glory.
3. Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas had quite the beautiful mustache last year. It would have made Tom Selleck blush. You could never be sure if he was going to get between the pipes or bust an underage drinking party. I read somewhere that having a mustache like that grants you an automatic conceal and carry permit. This explains his uber-human playoff performance last year. I wouldn’t want to score on a man with a .45 under his pads either.
2. Scott Hartnell
If having a gigantic beard wasn’t enough, why not grow that hair out as well? Scott Hartnell is 230 pounds and 20 of it is hair. If Troy Polomalu can get a multi-million dollar contract to advertise for hair care products, Hartnell should be able to get twice that amount and a deal with Beardsly Beard Shampoo.
1. All Playoff Beards. Ever.
Remember a few years back when the Patriots were en route to a 19 – 0 season and a Super Bowl victory (or so everyone thought, until a greased up Eli got off one of the most ridiculous passes in the history of anything ever.) Well, a big fuss was made because the offensive line of the Patriots grew playoff beards. A small set of guys on one team decided to grow beards. That was the story. 5 – 8 guys (I can’t remember how many participated, because it wasn’t even all of the offensive line) decided to grow playoff beards. Well guess what, football wimps? Everyone grows a friggin’ playoff beard in the NHL. Whether you’re Jonathan Toews and can’t quite grow anything other than some playoffs chops, or you are Shea Weber and your beard is suspected of murder in 5 states; EVERYONE. GROWS. A. BEARD. And it feels right. Not only is it to display solidarity with the team. It shows that one person’s ego is not more important than the success of the team. This is something that is woefully lacking in almost all other major sports. So chalk another W up for my beautiful mistress, ice hockey. She may just steal me away from my cold bitch of a wife, the NBA, who, for those of you who want to know, is STILL locking me out.
What are your favorite beards? Tell us in the comments; we’re sure we missed some.