The playoff beard has become a staple of sports’ history. While it seems like it has been in hockey forever, it’s often credited to the 1980s New York Islanders dynasties. Players like Ken Morrow led the team to its four consecutive Stanley Cups while sporting the beard. While it’s not exactly known when the tradition started, it’s well-ingrained in the hockey mythos.
Now, after Team Mullet decimated Team Mustache with 91% of the votes, they turn their sights to a tough team that is comprised of some of the best playoff beards to ever grace the NHL. With the playoff beard being more of a recent staple, I went with players from the modern era. There were a lot of players to choose from, but I went with quality of beard over the player. Leaving off players like Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin was a tough choice. While Crosby is currently the best player in the NHL, he just doesn’t have one of the best playoff beards. Again, I tried to pick one player for each position – I tried not to move a player to other positions (for example, not moving a Right Wing player to the Left Wing). I also wanted to use players who generally only wore a beard during the playoffs. Just like Team Mullet, these players are among some of the best to ever play in the NHL.
Team Playoff Beard
C – Joe Thornton (Captain)
“Jumbo” Joe Thornton, the big 6’4” center for the San Jose Sharks, is renowned for his on-ice vision and strength with the puck. His ability to make passes, as well as his power forward style, has made him one of the top centers in today’s NHL. With over 1000 games and more than 1000 points, Thornton is 2nd only to Jaromir Jagr for the most points by active players. After beginning his career in Boston with the Bruins, Jumbo Joe became upset with the Bruins franchise and asked for a trade. A 4-player deal was stuck with San Jose that saw 3 Sharks players being dealt in exchange for the Bruins’ captain. Thornton found success quickly with his new team. While never winning a Stanley Cup, Thornton is almost a lock for the Hall of Fame.
RW – Patrick Kane
The youngest player on this list, Patrick Kane, is quickly climbing the NHL success ladder. Winning three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, Kane is more than a point-per-game player. The Blackhawks’ cornerstone is also the first U.S born player to win the Art Ross trophy (NHL scoring leader) and the Hart Trophy (League MVP). 28-year-old Patrick Kane is well on his way to becoming hockey royalty.
LW – Henrik Zetterberg
Zetterberg has been a staple in Detroit for 15 years. The Red Wings’ captain has not only helped lead Detroit to a Stanley Cup victory in 2008, but also Team Sweden to Olympic gold in 2006. Playing in over 1000 games, Zetterberg has over 300 goals, becoming the seventh Swedish-born player to reach that mark. Zetterberg is currently eighth among active players in points and, for good measure, won the Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP) in 2008.
D – Ray Bourque
Not only one of the best defensemen in NHL history, but also offensively-minded, Ray Bourque has won awards including the Calder Trophy (Best Rookie), Norris Trophy (Best Defensemen), and King Clancy Memorial Trophy (NHL leadership trophy), among many others. Playing in 1612 games, his 1579 points not only makes him slightly less than a point-per-game defenseman, it also places him eleventh on the all-time points list – he is the first defenseman to appear on the all-time points leaderboard. Ray Bourque only won one Stanley Cup; in what would be his final game, he captured the elusive Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.
D – Scott Niedermayer
Another Hall of Fame defensemen with the ability to pack on the points, Niedermayer is a four-time Stanley Cup Champion, Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Norris Trophy winner… he has a list of accomplishments too long to list. Niedermayer is also a two-time gold medalist, winning gold in both 2002 and 2010, with Team Canada. Niedermayer is one of two players in hockey history to win the Memorial Cup, World Junior championship, Stanley Cup, World Championship, World Cup and Olympic Games.
G – Henrik Lundqvist
The netminder for the New York Rangers has been a dominant stopping force for years. Currently, “King Henrik” is tenth all time in wins among goaltenders. He also has the most wins of any European-born goaltender in the NHL. While falling short of winning the Stanley Cup, Lundqvist did win a gold medal with Team Sweden in 2006. The five-time Vezina Trophy winner has many accolades, including being the fastest goaltender to 400 wins, only goaltender in NHL history to reach 30 wins in each full season played, among many others. Henrik Lundqvist is easily a Hall of Fame player.
Coach – John Tortorella
Coach Tortorella is an outspoken and hardnosed coach. He has coached in the NHL for 16 seasons, leading his commanding his teams to 9 playoff appearances, including winning a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. His fiery personality has, from time to time, rubbed the NHL (and his players) the wrong way; openly criticizing the league and its officials has landed “Torts” in hot water on a few occasions. With over 500 wins as a coach, however, John Tortorella has proven himself to be one of the best coaches in the NHL.
|Team Mullet||Team Playoff Beard|
|Center||Wayne Gretzky||Joe Thornton|
|Right Wing||Jaromir Jagr||Patrick Kane|
|Left Wing||Ryan Smyth||Henrik Zetterberg|
|Defense||Al Iafrate||Ray Bourque|
|Defense||Marty McSorley||Scott Niedermayer|
|Coach||Barry Melrose||John Tortorella|
|Totals||Team Mullet||Team Playoff Beard|
Team Playoff Beard is attempting to take on the scoring prowess of Team Mullet. After head coach, goalie was the most difficult position to fill; goalies don’t tend to rock the full playoff beard, looking more to go with what Lundqvist wears during the playoffs. Team Playoff Beard has a combined 6067 games played, 1580 goals, and 3794 assists, for a grand total of 5374 points. Ray Bourque leads the team in scoring with 410 goals and 1169 assists, for 1579 total points. With the team being backstopped by Lundqvist, they would be able to compete points-wise with Team Mullet. Coach Tortorella is considered by many to be a fiery and rough coach; this style may be perfectly suited to capture, and maintain, the energy of a playoff team. Team Playoff Beard isn’t made up of players who sported beards all season – this team is instead formed from the pressure and determination of a potential Stanley Cup win. While still not matching the scoring ability of Team Mullet, Team Playoff Beard has the production, and the momentum, of the playoffs behind them.
Before you say where is Brent Burns, where is Radko Gudas? The point being, it was very hard to make cuts from this team, but I wanted to focus more on players who didn’t have a beard year-round. Yes, I know that Thornton has a beard year-round now, but his playoff beard was just too good to pass up at his position.
How do I see the games going? Well, just like last time, I see it being split (and, no, I’m not leaving it neutral to let everyone vote without my opinion swaying anyone to one side or the other). I truly believe that with the pressure Team Playoff Beard would have, and the momentum that the playoffs bring, it would make the games incredibly interesting, and definitely close. Team Playoff Beard is formed under the pressure of elimination. Now, this is not saying that Team Mullet wouldn’t feel the pressure of the playoffs; what I’m trying to convey is that the playoffs are a special time of year. Some players, while not being super effective in the regular season, seem to add a few levels of play to their game. Players like Justin Williams have even earned the nickname “Mr. Game 7” because of the prowess he seems to possess during these high-pressure Game 7s.
So, how do you see the games going? Vote below and let us know who you think would be the winner.