It is arguably the best tradition in pro sports. Tossing out the razors and growing beards during the Stanley Cup playoffs was apparently started in the 1980s by the New York Islanders. Since then, it has grown into something that is done by nearly all North American hockey teams, including minor league teams and junior teams.
Even the baby-faced players who can't grown beards fake it. Hence the photo of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. However, this list is for real beards and it celebrates the 10 best beards of this years' Stanley Cup playoffs.
There are many beards to choose from and, in some cases, picking between two similar beards was like splitting hairs (no pun intended). But I've done my best to narrow it done to 10 and I've also done my best to rank these beards based on length, thickness, colour, growth time and a couple of other factors.
I didn't include any players who have had a beard for years like Henrik Zetterberg and Paul Mara, but that doesn't take away from the epic beards that did make this list.
Eric Brewer missed out on the NHL playoffs for eight years, so his beard is making up for lost time. He has also never been past the first round of the playoffs until this year so we've never had the chance to see his beard grow this much.
It has a nice light brown colour to it and it hugs his face nicely. Well done, Eric.
Not only has Ryan Kesler grown a dark beard that runs nicely around his face, he has also raised the most money among NHL players in a pledge drive run by the NHLPA to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The pledge is called Beard-a-thon and the Web site is beardathon.ca. Anyone can join and raise money. You don't have to be an NHL player. Just post a photo of your beard and raise some money.
Ryan Kesler is doing it. If you have a nice beard, you can do it too.
Patrick Marleau is usually a fairly clean-shaven guy most of the time. But not in the playoffs. He has done very well for himself in the facial hair growth department during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs thanks to his San Jose Sharks making it to the Western Conference Finals.
His beard covers most of his face and is fairly thick all over. But with the Sharks down 2-0 to the Vancouver Canucks right now, Marleau has some work to do if he wants to keep playing hockey this spring and justify his heavy beard.
Marleau's San Jose teammate, Niclas Wallin, is a pro at growing facial hair. Back in November, the Sharks had a contest to see who could grow the best moustache to support prostate cancer. Wallin won in a landslide and now he's back with a great playoff beard.
Wallin's beard has it all. It's thick, it has plenty of face coverage, and he even has his neck covered in hair. A lot of players still shave that area because it can become very itchy. Not Wallin though. He is going all out with his playoff beard.
The Detroit Red Wings may have been eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, but that didn't stop Todd Bertuzzi from growing a great beard in that time.
Bertuzzi has always been a hairy beast of a man and has never had much trouble growing playoff beards in the past. His thick, full, brown beard gets him on this list this year and it will probably get him on this list in future years as well.
Underneath the goalie mask of Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas lies an outstanding auburn beard.
It's thick, bushy and it has given Thomas the power to stop the puck in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Actually, Thomas was a great goalie before the beard, but that doesn't mean he's not playing great with it right now. Keep up the great play between the pipes and keep up the great beard Tim.
Of the many good beards on the Vancouver Canucks in this postseason, Chris Higgins has the best. His beard is thicker and covers more of his face than any other Canuck and most of the other NHL players too.
Higgins has been somewhat of an unsung hero for the Canucks in these playoffs. His contributions to the team have sometimes been subtle, but there's nothing subtle about his beard. It stands out as a beauty.
Let's hope the Canucks go even further in the 2011 playoffs so Chris Higgins beard can fill out even more than it already has.
Patrice Bergeron was forced to miss the first two games on the Eastern Conference Finals due to a mild concussion. Fortunately, his beard didn't take any time off and it is thicker than ever.
It is among the bushiest beards in hockey and has a nice dark colour as well. Simply put, it is epic.
Let's hope Bergeron can stay healthy this postseason so we can see more of this awesome beard.
There is no beard that is bigger, bushier, and hairier in the 2011 playoffs than the beard of Shea Weber. It is almost lumberjack-like in how massive it has become.
The best part of it is that Weber is such a great defenseman for the Nashville Predators. That means he received a lot of camera time during the Predators postseason run so we had plenty of opportunities to see this great beard.
The only reason that Weber is not number one on this list is because he started growing the beard months before the playoffs began. This was obvious when he already had a big, bushy beard in Game 1 of round one.
So as epic as Shea Weber's beard is, he is not on the top of the list of best playoff beards of 2011. That winner might surprise some of you.
When the 2011 NHL Playoffs began, how many of you thought that a normally clean-cut, 21-year-old Steven Stamkos would end up with a beard this bushy? Not me.
But that's what has happened and words cannot describe how great it is!
It hugs the chin and puffs out better than any other NHL player, but what makes it even more impressive is how young he is. It's a lot like his playing career to date. He's accomplished so much at such a young age both with his statistics and his beard.
So for turning his smooth skin in the regular season into an enormous beard in his first playoff appearance, Steven Stamkos is the 2011 king of NHL playoff beards!