My mustache hair constantly dangles over my lips and into my teeth. My jaw itches like it’s been rubbed in poison ivy. My neck looks like a wooly mammoth. But guess what, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This facial discomfort can only mean one thing… it’s the NHL playoffs, baby.
The history of the NHL playoff beard goes as follows, “The Stanley Cup playoff beard has been an NHL tradition since the early 1980s, when the shaggy New York Islanders won four straight championships. It represents the players’ singular focus, as if even personal hygiene is sacrificed in pursuit of hockey’s holy grail. It suggests the rugged doggedness that’s synonymous with the NHL’s postseason tournament, with its grueling series and marathon overtimes.” That’s right, players grow beards concurrently with their pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup and won’t shave them till their postseason journey comes to a victorious (or disappointing) end.
As a devoted New York Rangers fan, it’s been just under two weeks since I’ve started my playoff beard journey and groomed this disgusting growth across my face. But with my beloved New York Rangers facing elimination tonight in Game 6 away in Pittsburgh, part of me wishes I could just finally shave it. But then, my inner fan comes out. I don’t want to even think about touching my face until my New York Rangers hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. I’ll do whatever it takes to watch my Rangers win, and if that includes harboring a nasty disgusting beard for two months, then so help me God I’ll do it.
It’s getting pretty, pretty gross, leaving me constantly wondering… Am I allowed to trim it between rounds? (Please God, please.) Or does it have to remain as untouched as the Arctic tundra? For hygiene’s sake, I’d opt for the former. But for purity’s sake, I’d opt for the latter. Therefore, I won’t touch my face until my Rangers are eliminated or victors.
Sure, I’m no Brent Burns…
But I think my disgusting, scraggly, scruffy beard has to count for something, right? It’s the social sacrifice, it’s tradition, it’s support, it’s superstition all wrapped into one. Yes, I look gross. Yes, I feel gross. But I do it for the team. I do it because while I obviously can’t be out there on the ice with my Rangers… growing out my beautifully nasty playoff beard is the next closest thing I can do as a true fan to feel like I am actually supporting them toward their Cup destiny.
Let us rejoice in the time-honored tradition of the playoff beard. It’s the perfect way to say “Let’s Go Rangers” without ever having to actually open my mouth.