It’s baaaaaaack! The NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs are scheduled and are ready to blow hockey fans out of the ice yet again this year. Tonight at 7 p.m. the Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins will meet up again in first round live on Versus. Tonight starts the wall-to-wall, double-header charged NHL playoff coverage on Versus that I’ve grown to love over the past two years.
The playoffs bring many of the things that hockey fans, and sports fans of all ages, have grown to love. The most famous of these is the playoff beard, a tradition that hasn’t been outdone in any professional sport to date.
In 2003 the Stanley Cup was won by the Tampa Bay Lightning who had captain Dave Andreychuk. Andreychuk’s beard was by far the best of the playoffs that year, leading to their championship. The next year the Carolina Hurricanes had a slew of stellar ginger-esque beards led by Mike Commodore and Rod Brind’Amore. Then of course the Ducks last year had some amazing beards especially by true champion Scott Niedermayer who grew enough of a beard for the entire team, however he wasn’t left alone as fellow veteran Teemu Selanne saw his dream come true with a beautiful beard that will be remembered forever.
Do you notice a pattern here? Veterans that grow big beautiful beards, play with heart and play with desire end up lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup in May. So that leaves the obvious question, who will it be this year?
You can easily grow a longing to see the Ducks win it again with the hopes of seeing the Niedermayer brothers growing their beards along with Selanne on a repeat. It doesn’t end there, though, as the Ducks have more potential playoff beards: Todd Bertuzzi and Doug Weight are just a couple playoff rounds away from that mark. However what will stop them is the same thing that stopped the Wings the last three years: Mathieu Schnieder. Schneider just can’t grow it, just can’t do it. Sorry Ducks.
Another former bearded champion is on the Ottawa Senators, Mike Commodore. His red-head gets even redder every playoff year, adding to Daniel Alfredsson’s beauty and Wade Redden’s mask. The Sens could be a competitor with those beards except that they aren’t good enough at hockey to do it (sorry Sens fans).
After beating Ottawa in the first round it’ll be interesting to see what Crosby has done with himself. The second round playoff match up of Pittsburgh and Washington will finally answer the question: Ovechkin or Crosby? That’ll be determined by the beards that they can grow; winner of that series makes the Cup Finals.
No matter what the beard is that comes from the east, the San Jose Sharks will have an answer for it. Superstar Joe Thornton, veteran Jeremy Roenick and red-headed defensemen Brian Campbell will have the playoff beards of the season, battling through the West to win the Cup.