Toews, Crosby, and Bad Playoff Beards
As modeled by former Devils Ken Daneyko and Oleg Tverdovsky, it's become as much a part of the playoffs as the hockey itself.
The playoff beard is a great NHL tradition. The ever-reliable Wikipedia says the tradition has been around since the 1980s, when the New York Islanders decided it would be cool to stop shaving. Since it worked for them, a monster was created.
Nowadays, NHL teams are joined by those who play high school, junior, college, minor-league, and any other kind of hockey in growing beards to celebrate the start of the postseason. While most of the athletes can grow a nice, healthy beard, there are others who should just not bother.
This isn't to make fun of the baby-faced. Some grown men just can't grow good beards. It happens. Not every NHL player has kept a beard for the playoffs, and there will be plenty of stars in the future who forego the practice, even if only for the preservation of their image or to avoid embarrassment.
Actually, this is about giving credit to those with the guts. It takes no guts at all to grow a Ken Daneyko beard. Instead, it takes guts to grow something significantly less than that.
Especially when you're a captain and a face of your team.
Take Sidney Crosby, for example. No one can deny his hockey skill or leadership. He has guts, determination, and incredible talent. There's some knack for the dramatic, too. It's with good reason that Sid The Kid is considered one of the greats in the game today.
However, Sid The Kid grows facial hair like, well, a kid. There just isn't much there. Give him credit for not shaving, but he'd probably be better off if he did. This isn't a new development, as we saw his (lack of) beard-growing skills on display throughout the 2008 playoffs.
Pittsburgh could play games until August, and it wouldn't look much better.
He's not the only star still playing who can't quite figure out the beard thing.
In Chicago, the Blackhawks have a team full of bright, young stars. They're led by a 21-year-old captain named Jonathan Toews. During the Blackhawks' Western Conference semifinal series against Vancouver, it became clear that Toews was very similar to Crosby.
He's not quite as good, but he's a young captain on an emerging team, and he also has no ability to grow a passable playoff beard.
While you have to hand both of them limited credit for the fact they care enough to try, they're probably better off not trying. Apparently, part of learning how to play in the playoffs isn't "Beardology 101."