UrbanDictionary.com’s top definition of ‘the flow’ describes the popular hockey haircut as “sick hair that was invented by hockey players…don’t listen to lacrosse players, they will try and tell you they invented it but they’re just posers….Your flow has to be the perfect length…not too short not too long…you will know when it is perfect because you will play the best games of your life…take note of the perfect length so you cut it back to the perfect length when it gets too long…When it is too long that is considered an OVER-flow….side effects of an OVER-flow are; ankles bending more than usual, flopping passes, getting burned (applies to defensemen AND forwards), and the worst side effect that can kill a team is being a MAJOR sieve (goalies only).”
While the haircut’s origins are in hockey territory, ‘the flow’ has gained participants nationwide in other sports, or simply as a stylish look. Regardless of whether you’re a hockey fan or not, chances are you’ve seen a pretty dope flow in school, work, or on an everyday commute. However, despite its popularity in non-hockey activities around the world, ‘the flow’ is no exception to the rule that all good things have something to do with hockey
A difficult past to navigate, ‘the flow’ most likely originated during the Viking Era (793-1096). Far more relevant, however, is the hockey flow, which began taking shape in the 1960’s and 70’s. The 60’s was a time of experimentation with physical appearance, especially when it came to hair. The long locks were in – and the military buzzcut was long gone – for many people, including free thinkers and athletes.
As the 70’s took shape, several professional players rocked ‘the flow,’ but none more prolifically than Guy LaFleur. One of the first to sport a ‘flow’, his play along with the Canadiens’ dominance absolutely backed his haircut.
Hollywood also adopted ‘the flow,’ as the 1977 film “Slapshot” featured the Hanson brothers and their free-flowing locks.
In the 80’s, ‘the flow’ took a dip with the new rule that required every player to wear a helmet. This rule, which was instituted in 1979, forced many players to take different approaches to hair. However, Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky kept ‘the flow’ alive despite the helmet, allowing it to “flow” freely.
As ‘the flow’ began to lose a bit of its popularity in the 1980’s, the 90’s showed a flourish of hair styles. Mike Ricci, Chris Simon, and Al Iafrate are some of the more well-known players who showed this flourish, although nobody can compare to Jaromir Jagr’s flow, which is considered by many hockey fans to be the GOAT.
As the 21st century approached, the pros continued the tradition, yet the truly awe-inspiring evolution of ‘the flow’ is how the youth has embraced the ideals of the hairstyle itself. Children in schools all around the country have kept the tradition of ‘the flow’ alive, including the Minnesota State High School hockey team, which has an annual competition to see who can make it onto their “All Hockey Hair Team,” an honor which is received only by those with the greatest flows. In fact, Barry Melrose made an E:60 short film based on this hockey team’s wicked hair.
As ‘the flow’ continues to gain traction in our modern world, and those who once doubted it join the movement, we should remember the true roots of ‘the flow’ itself: hockey.
Drew Bishop is the “Hockey America” columnist for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can contact him on his email: firstname.lastname@example.org.