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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Florida Panthers Embrace the Playoff Beard. Some More Than Others

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Playoff beard
The Florida Panthers have embraced the tradition of the playoff beard - although some are having better success with it than others. From top right: Paul Maurice, Matthew Tkachuk, Sasha Barkov, Sergei Bobrovsky, Brandon Montour, Carter Verhaeghe, Eric Staal, Radko Gudas and Anton Lundell. // Screenshots courtesy @FlaPanthers video

SUNRISE — Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice is cool with all of the different traditions and superstitions at this time of year but draws the line when it comes to the playoff beard.

Although just about every other male member on the hockey side of the organization is letting their facial hair grow out as per the unwritten rules of the postseason, Maurice appears clean shaven just about every day.

“It’s a bad look,” he said with a laugh Saturday. “It is all white. Like, all white. It’s ugly and bad. I will not be part of that. I think there should be a separation between players and coaches and that’s not something I want to be a part of.”

The playoff beard is about a big a part of postseason hockey as a team riding a hot goalie.

The Panthers are all-in.

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While a good number of players have some sort of facial hair throughout the season, just about everyone on the team now has something going on these days.

“This is the time of year we dream about and I want to keep it going as long as possible,” captain Sasha Barkov said.

“This is a great tradition and you remember watching hockey growing up and seeing all those bearded guys lifting the Cup. In the team picture, you cannot even recognize anyone because of their beard. That’s cool. I want to be that guy.”

Back in the day, many teams had rules against beards — Lou Lamoriello still bans players from having them on the Islanders during the season — but would allow players to grow them in the playoffs.

So, most players would start growing their beards at the same time.

“How is my beard? Getting there, right? We’ll see how thick it can get,’’ Brandon Montour said with a bit of snark.

“It’s something that is fun, one of those things where it might look different if guys actually did it right and shaved before. That doesn’t happen these days. Guys want to get to the end with the greasiest, longest growth. We’re kind of cheating the game a little bit but I don’t think (Gudas) should ever shave. Ever.”

Gudas has had his glorious facial mane for years now and he was not about to shave it off just to start over for the postseason.

But now that the Panthers have won their past five playoff games, he is not even trimming it.

You don’t mess with a winning streak and whatnot.

“I think a lot of guys are doing surprisingly well. There are some guys who are stumbling, obviously, but that’s to be expected,’’ said Gudas, who says he has been shaving since he was in sixth grade.

“I’m pretty impressed. … You just keep growing it, keep feeding it and I haven’t been able to touch it the past few weeks so it’s getting a little out of control.”

The tradition of not shaving during the playoffs appears to have started in the early 1980s during the New York Islanders’ dynasty and really picked up steam through that decade.

Now, every team in the NHL leaves their razors at home when the playoffs start.

“Guys have like two millimeters of beard and they are itching and I’m like ‘it’s really not that bad’,’’ Gudas said. “It’s a great part of the playoffs. I really enjoy seeing all the guys and how they are succeeding — not not succeeding. I am a fan of this time of the year.”

There is plenty of time to clean up in the offseason. Most players after a long playoff run cannot wait to rid themselves of them. Their wives and significant others, for the most part, hate them.

For now, though, beard on.

“Mine is a little slow growing but I don’t pay much attention to it,” Sergei Bobrovsky said. “Some guys, it is a week and they a long beard. Others it takes a month.”

Former Florida forward Joe Thornton is known for his facial hair and, unlike Maurice, was obviously not afraid to show off some gray hairs.

Thornton’s stance on that appears to have changed now that he has an endorsement deal with Just For Men’s new 1-Day beard coloring system.

If you have watched a playoff game in the past few weeks, you have probably seen the spot.

Hey, good for him.

“I need a seven month playoff run for it to fill in enough,’’ Maurice said. “There would still be some gaps. It’s ugly.”

That said, not everyone is blessed with the gift of beard.

Anton Lundell is trying his best to grow one, but, it just is not happening.

Lundell, 21, is not shaving but still looks baby faced. Maybe next year.

“I think it is cool and a fun tradition,” Lundell said with a smirk. “Everyone does it in their own way. But this is all I got right now. Not much I can do about it.”

The best beards around the Panthers — not counting Gudas?

“Barkov always looks the same, Duclair’s is solid,” Montour said. “Ekblad, obviously, but he has had a beard since he was 10-years-old. We have some good ones, actually. Tkachuk, Cousins. It’s all about potential. It’s only been a few weeks. We’re still early.”

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
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