CHICAGO – They walked around United Center like a hirsute street gang, clad in matching No. 27 Chicago Blackhawks jerseys, black wigs and thick black faux beards.
They are the Friends of Johnny Oduya, having flown from Stockholm to support their local hero, a defenseman for the Blackhawks and a native of the Swedish city.
“He’s just an awesome guy,” said Nick Storm, adjusting his wig before Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in Chicago. “We played hockey before. We’re really good friends.”
There were fifteen of them, a walking photo op for amused Blackhawks fans.
Eventually the media took notice, too, assembling them for the opening of “Hockey Night in Canada” as they threw the coverage to host Ron MacLean.
Where do 15 people from Stockholm find 15 beards before Game 5?
“We got’em in Sweden. Just before we got here,” said Richard Gustafson.
“We wanted to get something that’s pretty similar to what he’s got,” he said.
What Oduya has, incidentally, is the Beard of the Year. As our Beard Watch wrote:
“His beard collapses and increases in density like a star forming. It appears to be self-grooming as well - hitting just high enough on his cheeks, naturally stopping short of the neckbeard line.
"It’s black as night and perfectly anchored to his sideburns. Truth and beauty - this is the beard of the future.”
So how did 15 Johnny Oduya fans from Stockholm get tickets to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final?
Through Johnny Oduya, of course.
The 15 Friends of Johnny Oduya are, in fact, friends of Johnny Oduya. He hooked them with tickets; they flew nine hours from Stockholm to see him.
Imported fake Swedish playoff beards included.