Ranking the Best Beards in the NHL for the 2013-14 Season
In the NHL, discussion of beards is usually reserved for playoff time, when raging testosterone makes facial hair grow noticeably longer from one period to the next.
The playoff beard tradition is now making its way into other sports: The Boston Red Sox have embraced the look on their way to the World Series, and Canada's Graham DeLaet did the same through four PGA FedEx Cup events earlier this fall.
In hockey, the league's true standard-bearers are those who rock their beards all year round, even if it's in a more subdued form.
We're days away from the start of Movember, when moustache growth becomes synonymous with raising funds and awareness for men's health, but—Mike Brown and George Parros aside—the beard is king in today's NHL.
Greg Zanon, pictured above, had one of the NHL's best beards for years, but his contract was bought out last summer by the Colorado Avalanche and he's out of the league for the moment.
So...the title is up for grabs. Here's a look at the best beards in the early going of 2013-14.
7. Luke Gazdic: Edmonton Oilers
Luke Gazdic is a tough guy who was acquired on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers when Steve MacIntyre was hurt during preseason. He has a goal and 19 penalty minutes in eight NHL games with Edmonton.
The 24-year-old Gazdic is a self-described "cave man" on his Twitter profile, so the beard fits nicely with the image. He could climb the rankings if he can establish himself as a real NHL regular.
6. Shea Weber: Nashville Predators
If this was a playoff beard ranking, Shea Weber would almost certainly be higher. When the Nashville Predators have advanced in the playoffs, he has sprouted whiskers like a werewolf.
To start the year, Weber has chosen a more subdued look, perhaps to reflect his mature role as mentor to young Seth Jones on the Preds' blue line.
The Nashville captain bears some resemblance to Ben Affleck in this portrait, don't you think?
5. Eric Gryba: Ottawa Senators
Eric Gryba is another one of the NHL's new generation of young cavemen. The 25-year-old native of Saskatoon plays hard on and off the ice.
With just 38 NHL games under his belt, the 6'4", 225-pound Gryba is best known for the imposing figure he cut when he knocked Montreal's Lars Eller out of the first game of the 2013 NHL playoffs, though he has just two penalty minutes so far this year.
Gryba is a member of the NHL's hunting fraternity and bagged his first pheasant on Monday. It looks like the beard got a serious trim so as not to interfere with the shooting.
First pheasant hunt and it was not a disappointment!!! pic.twitter.com/i4Zf9ApA9i— Eric Gryba (@grybes02) October 21, 2013
4. Henrik Zetterberg: Detroit Red Wings
Some fair-haired Swedes have a hard time growing a beard. Not Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg.
The Red Wings' annual playoff appearances have given Zetterberg ample time to work on his facial hair. Long runs to the final have meant long, crazy beards, but even during the regular season, the 33-year-old rocks the look with commitment.
Zetterberg brings it game in and game out in the beard department.
3. Henrik Lundqvist: New York Rangers
Thanks to his goalie mask, we don't often get to see Henrik Lundqvist's face while he's as work.
Thankfully, he's a fixture on the New York social and fashion scenes and is often photographed around town, always with his beard meticulously groomed.
He can't get too bushy under the mask, so in Lundqvist's case, the ranking of his beard is much more about quality than quantity.
2. Jason Garrison: Vancouver Canucks
With nine points in the Vancouver Canucks' first 10 games, Jason Garrison trails only P.K. Subban in points by a defenseman, living up to the promise that the Canucks saw when they acquired him as a free agent two summers ago.
With more appearances on the highlight reels, fans are also becoming increasingly aware of Garrison's bushy beard—and the crazy eyes that sometimes flash above it.
Garrison's beard was good enough to earn him the attention of actress Katie Cassidy, who stars in the filmed-in-Vancouver TV series Arrow. Click here to see them together at a wedding last July.
1. Brent Burns: San Jose Sharks
Who's the man with the beard so great that he's shaving it for charity on November 1?
It can't be anybody other than the San Jose Sharks' mountain man, Brent Burns.
Burns left his snake collection behind when he was traded from Minnesota to California, but the tattoos came along, and so did the beard. It has only gotten wilder as he's solidified his spot on the Sharks' top line alongside Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl.
The Sharks announced on Saturday that Burns would have his beard shaved and his hair trimmed to a buzz cut to help raise money for the Sharks Foundation and the Katie Moore Foundation. "With this disaster on my face, I figured that maybe some good can come from it and we can help a couple of deserving causes,” Burns said. And hey, it'll always grow back.
On November 2, the battle for best beard will begin anew.
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