(Ed. Note: We're proud to welcome back two of our favorite bloggers, Chuck and Pants from What's Up, Ya Sieve?, to the Puck Daddy fold as they author our NHL Playoff Beard Watch, which tracks the best and worst follicle growth in the postseason.)
By Chuck And Pants
It’s here, it’s finally here! All the growing and grooming have lead to this, a Final pageant of bearded glory. Each playoff round had at least one seven-game series, allowing these Beard of the Year candidates maximum time on the campaign trail.
The Blackhawks and the Lightning are ready to face off in the greatest matchup since Charlie Conway triple-deked his way into our hockey hearts. They’ll say they're playing for the greatest trophy in all of sports, but we all know the trophy they’re really after.
Beard of the Year title is anyone’s to win - with the exception of Toews - but weeks of anguish and screaming at the TV have given us plenty of time to consider our favorites.
We’re proud to present the top three beards from each team for your Beard of the Year consideration.
Cast your votes in the comments. We promise to hear your opinion...like refs hear about missed calls.
A note about the Beard of the Year rules: We make them up as we go, so we’re adding one: No player can repeat as BOTY champion.
Sorry, Johnny Oduya. Oduya won Beard of the Year in 2013, and could easily take home the prize any year. Ruling out repeats is not fair to Johnny, but it’s hardly fair to make mortal compete against this beard more than once. Oduya’s beard has it all: robust color, precision cut and nary a thin patch in site. We’d pay a fortune to golf on this thing at Augusta now that we’re actually allowed to play there.
Let this year’s new winner recognize that Oduya’s set a benchmark for the ages.
We LOVE gingerbeards and this russet-hued growth is a true beauty. It began with enough stylish irony to match Darling’s hairdo (which is called an undercut, if we you didn’t know), but it’s well past hipster sleek now. From lumbersexual (yes, that is a thing. Just ask Chuck. She loves ‘em) to full lumberjack, Darling’s beard sits at the end of the bench, wild and gleaming crimson, just waiting for a trophy. This year, it could just get two.
Corey Crawford’s Patronus is a beard, and it has finally revealed its true self. Past years have given us an oversized, snarled mess that doubled as extra protection beneath Crow’s mask. This season, his beard is shorn and shaped by experience. Rarely do we say less is more, but the beard powers have manifested. Can Crow keep a handle on its magic for another round?
The line between handsome and homeless is very thin when it comes to beards. Currently, Brandon looks respectable and surprisingly mature. But if the Finals goes to a game seven, there’s a good chance he’ll resemble the rough end of a spring break bender - one night in a jail included. Think of the story he can tell his grandkids someday when they ask about pictures of the mug shot-worthy guy holding the Stanley Cup.
Dark Horse: Duncan Keith.
Keith has been logging major minutes for the Hawks in the playoffs and his beard is reaping all of the benefits. It feeds on playoff hockey and the more time Keith spends on the ice, the more intense and resolute this beard becomes. It has seen victory before and it wants more. It needs more.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Unparalleled. Impressive. Singular. Obsidian. That is Garrison’s beard. It is a beard that stands alone. (No, we mean it - Garrison probably takes it off at night and rests it on a bust of himself, like Batman’s mask.) If we could predict the future… well, Pants would know the Rangers will beat her teams every year. So we’re not going to tell you who’ll win BOTY. But if you told us that you put a whole lot of money on Jason Garrison’s inky, rugged facepelt at the beginning of the season, we’ll probably be asking you for a loan at the end of June. Or at least to buy the first round of drinks.
It’s tough to seem as unassuming as Ben Bishop, especially if you’re 12 feet tall, as adorable as a red panda, and performing a Cirque du Soleil routine on ice skates. But we’d spot this beard from a mile away. Just like Bishop, this beard is so affable and helpful even. It’s even concentrated on the jaw and below, so that regular-size people can appreciate it. It looks soft and cuddly but it’ll need to fill in around the soul patch in the final push if it wants to win this title.
Insert requisite Viking reference here. If we had #FlowWatch2015, Hedman would win the bedazzled hair dryer, hands-down. The tresses almost deter from his rugged, useful-looking beard, but his Nordic camouflage has good volume and just needs another week and some Stanley Cup Finals game to tuft in about the cheeks. Hedman is a hard-working hockey player and his beard is no exception.
Dark Horse: Ryan Callahan
Bad breakup? Well there is nothing Taylor Swift Ryan Callahan does better than revenge… beard. Revenge Beard is swarthy, cool and doesn’t care how many playoff series comebacks you have. Or how many catchy song title references you could use in this description.