You are looking at a photo of Radko Gudas, a defenseman for the Norfolk Admirals and a prospect for the Tampa Bay Lightning. As you can see, the man has a remarkable playoff beard, arguably one of the best in recent memory.
Bask in it. Just stare at it awhile. We'll wait ...
... OK, too long. You're a creep.
Gudas' "Young Santa Claus" is made all the more remarkable when you consider two additional facts. First, he didn't get a running start on his playoff beard, like Shea Weber did with last year's standout face forest -- according to the team, he started his war bear right around playoff time. The Calder Cup playoffs began on April 19, so the majesty you're seeing really is just over a month's worth of growth.
Second, Gudas is only 22 21 years old. That's ridiculous.
Here's a video of Neilson and Jackson working out their beards.
Those beard pushups look intense.
Now, Neilson and Jackson began their beards earlier than Gudas -- right around Christmas, according to the team -- but that doesn't make them any less awesome to behold. And heck, the team rattled off a historic, 29-game win streak afterward, so clearly the beards hold some magic.
They also hold a little more meaning than your usual playoff beards. As the gentlemen mention in the video, they're growing them out in support of the St. Baldrick's Foundation and the fight against pediatric cancer.
During the playoffs, it is hard to find a hockey player without a beard. The Admirals are no different. However, Admirals players such as Scott Jackson and Eric Neilson are growing theirs to support the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a charity committed to funding research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives.
Approximately 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. It is the number one disease-killer of children in the United States and Canada. St. Baldrick's Foundation primarily raises money through head-shaving events in unity with children who typically lose their hair during cancer treatments. Through these events, volunteers discover the power they have to bring hope to children around the world.
When the Admirals' playoff run ends, some of the players will be shaving their beards (and maybe their hair) in an event for the charity. But that might still be a while. The Admirals are currently a game away from the Calder Cup Final, leading the St. John's Ice Caps 3-games-to-0 in their third-round series.
For more information, and to donate to the cause, you can visit ShaveTheAdmirals.com.
s/t to Reddit Hockey.
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