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Drop the gloves during the playoffs with SI.com's writers in the NHL Cup Blog, a daily journal of hockey commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
6:49 PM ET, 5/27/06

All about the playoff beard

Posted by Allan Muir
The votes are in, and J.P. Dumont has the best playoff beard.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
I don't know what's up with these hockey announcers. We've got two guys in the booth, four in the studio and two more rinkside, all breaking down the game as if it were the Yalta Summit. And even though they manage to dissect the most inconsequential elements -- Buffalo's injury-riddled blueline, Edmonton's tired legs -- from six different perspectives, not one of them has brought up the most critical angle of the NHL postseason:

The playoff beards.

Tossing away the Schick and shaving cream is as much a part of the second season as clamping down defensively and jacking up ticket prices. And it's something you'd never see players in other sports doing. Can you imagine Tim Duncan or A-Rod getting in touch with their inner mountain man? Their image consultants would never let it happen. No, playoff beards are as unique to hockey as the Zamboni and puck bunnies, and that's what makes them so great.

And that's also what makes this season so disappointing. Generally speaking, I think this year's crop of beards has been a bit on the sub-standard side. Most of that can be attributed to the fact that goatees are in style at the moment, or at least they were a few years ago and are now are coming to the attention of hockey players. That's led to a number of players going with a neat, well-trimmed look that says, "I make $30,000 a year and drive a Porsche" rather than "I'm willing to chew off and eat my own legs if that's what it takes to get me the Stanley Cup."

And you can't overlook the influx of younger players who've assumed key roles in the postseason. A lot of these kids can skate like the wind, but they couldn't come up with a decent five o'clock shadow if you gave 'em until next year's playoffs.

Fortunately, there are some players living up to expectations. I like Scott Niedermayer's salt and pepper beard. Nothing like a little grey on the cheek and chin to give a player a bit of gravitas, wouldn't you say? No wonder he wears the 'C' for the Mighty Ducks.

Andrew Ladd of the Hurricanes has won me over with the kind of beard you'd expect from a guy whose best friend is a bear. But when a kid that young -- he's just 20 -- can grow that much on his chin, you have to worry about just how hairy he is everywhere else. Hopefully he was inspired by the waxing scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, or better yet, that it was taken care of earlier in the season through some kind of rookie initiation.

His teammate, Mike Commodore, is right there with him, sporting the finest red beard since, well, Red Beard the Pirate. That should come as no surprise, given the Ogie Ogilthorpe 'fro that's hiding under that oversized helmet of his. This guy was genetically engineered to grow hair.

But at the moment, I think the best playoff beard honors go to J.P. Dumont of the Buffalo Sabres. His chin crop is so impressive that he looks like he should be complaining to Geico about their unfair representation of cavemen. I don't think it's a coincidence that the lower portion of his face has disappeared from sight while at the same time he's enjoying the finest playoffs of his career. These things are all connected, people. It's somewhere in The Da Vinci Code, I think.

Of course, there still are another couple weeks to grow in the playoffs, for some players at least. And while the names of the Stanley Cup winners will soon fade from memory, those who fought for it with the finest beards will live on forever.

Comments:

Posted: 11:26 AM   by Anonymous
I'm a Sabres fan and my friends and I were commenting on Dumonts beard. Whats funny is that his beard is reddish brown when his hair is so dark. He's definitely deserving of the best beard award. Now, going along with that, look at Danny Briere's beard. He ain't got nothing, poor guy. It's amusing to look around the NHL at the beards, but I naturally would rather watch hockey! Go Buffalo!!
Posted: 7:38 PM   by Anonymous
GREAT ....the way DUMONT has been playing in the Hurricanes Series, he should cut that Cursed Chin Hair Immediately....His Lazy play in Game 4 and a bad penalty in Game 5 OT has cost the Sabres ... maybe it's weighing him down !
Posted: 10:54 PM   by Anonymous
As always, regardless if it's a serious matter or something to look at lightly, always enjoying Allan Muir's articles. Keep up the wicked writing.
Posted: 11:19 PM   by Anonymous
"GREAT ....the way DUMONT has been playing in the Hurricanes Series, he should cut that Cursed Chin Hair Immediately....His Lazy play in Game 4 and a bad penalty in Game 5 OT has cost the Sabres ... maybe it's weighing him down ! "

Agreed. Except for the penalty in OT, that was a BAD call. His stick got caught and he let it go, whomever it was (i dont remember) should have gotten a holding the stick penalty. Its BS and led to the Canes winning. I'm not trying to make excuses, but my goodness it was a crucial moment of the game, that penalty shouldn't have been called!
Posted: 8:51 AM   by Anonymous
I agree the hooking penalty shouldn't have been called on Dumont, but to claim it should have been a holding the stick penalty the other way is absurd. Whoever the other player was, he was using both hands to control the puck, and didn't even clamp down with his arm (that's why Dumont's stick flopped around and fell to the ice after he let go).

The entire play should have been a non-issue. The refs really botched it, and gave the game to Carolina.
Posted: 2:02 PM   by Anonymous
I love how Sabres fans have used a blog on playoff beards to complain about bad calls and claim that they've cost the Sabres games. I agree with the fact that there have been some bad calls--on BOTH sides. It certainly didn't 'give' the game to Carolina. But that's totally off topic.
To get back to what we're here for: Commodore does have the most glorious playoff beard and 'fro combo I've ever witnessed.
Posted: 4:15 AM   by jbutler70
Dumont's beard is impressive- but I think the Conn Smythe should go to Chris Drury for the sheer volume/thickness of his beard. I didn't know you were allowed to hide the Stanley Cup in your beard while you were playing for it!
Posted: 7:40 AM   by Anonymous
I love Rod Brind'amour's playoff beard....oh, wait, he doesn't have one. I guess either he doesn't want to, or he has yet to go through puberty.
Posted: 6:40 PM   by Anonymous
I must contest the greatest red beard comment. I remind you of Kiprusoff's monster when the Flames lost the Cup before the lockout. His mask barely fit for heaven's sake!
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