playoff beard

Every year since the 1980s, the Stanley Cup has featured not just giant dudes on skates, but some of the most impressive facial hair outside of a logging camp. The playoff beard started with the New York Islanders and has spread not just throughout the NHL but to fans and players of a whole range of sports including Major League Baseball, Canadian Football League, National Football League, and even the National Basketball Association. The practice generally resembles that of hockey in that players don’t shave until they either win a championship or are eliminated. The theory is this: players and fans stop shaving when the team enters the playoffs and don’t start again until the team is either out or wins.

The tradition has even gained a charity component. The Beard-A-Thon campaign launched in 2009. The campaign encourages hockey fans to grow playoff beards not just for superstition, but for charity. It’s been a huge hit: In 2009, the Beard-a-thon campaign was launched to encourage fans to grow their own playoff beards for charity.

Since 2009 over 50,000 fans have taken part in the Beard-A-Thon, raising more than $3 million for charity. As of June 2015, this year’s campaign featured 3,921 participants and brought in more than $210,000 for charities including among others the Garden of Dreams Foundation (New York Rangers), Kings Care (Los Angeles Kings), the Mario Lemieux Foundation (Pittsburgh Penguins), and the St. Louis Blues 14 Fund.

But is the play-off beard tradition in jeopardy? Also in June 2015, Mark Lazarus, the chairman of NBC Sports told the Chicago Tribune that he is pushing the NHL to eliminate the practice in order to make hockey players more telegenic. This harkens back to the days when rulers such as Henry VIII of England and Peter the Great of Russia taxed facial hair to disco