Although the playoff beard is most commonly traced back to the 1980's New York Islanders, Swedish superstar Björn Borg may have actually started the trend a few years before the National Hockey League. Regardless, Borg used to forgo shaving during Wimbledon in the mid 1970's and won five consecutive tournament wins from 1976-1980. Although Wimbledon technically does not include a playoff run, it is the Stanley Cup of tennis and the principle behind Borg's razor-free victory is all relative.
Ironically, the most commonly credited origin of the playoff beard started during a time when the playoff beard was simply an irrelevant novelty. Hockey players started growing their beards once their respective team entered the playoffs with the commitment to only shave when their team was eliminated or won the Stanley Cup. As this superstitious act became customary around the league, it also gained attention in other professional leagues, minor leagues and even some divisions of NCAA.
Today, the playoff beard has become less of a surprise and more of an expectation at most professional levels. While it is still considered primarily a hockey tradition, notable athletes from the NBA and MLB have donned some epic playoff beards over the last few years. From Sidney Crosby's embarrassing dirtstache to the Oakland Athletics' Josh Reddick's wild masterpiece, the beard is everywhere and often not without controversy.
Did former Miami Heat center Zydrunas IIgauskas really shave his beard because of spousal disapproval? Did Los Angeles Dodgers' reliever Brian Wilson really not shave his beard for the New York Yankees losing out on $1 million? One thing is for sure, the beard means business. Although many of the greatest beards playing today are keeping their facial hair year-round, the rally beard is supreme. With the beard in high demand, let's look back through the history of professional sports at the top 10 best playoff beards.
10 Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins (2011)
9 Ken Morrow, New York Islanders (1980-1983)
8 Brett Keisel, Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-2014)
7 Kris Draper, Detroit Red Wings (2008)
6 James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder (2012)
The former Arizona State shooting guard, James Harden, was picked by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2009 NBA Draft. During his five years in the NBA, Harden has quickly established himself as a young, successful athlete. With 5 Player of the Week Awards, a trip to the 2012 NBA Finals and one Olympic Gold Medal, this two-time All-Star continues to prove how high the ceiling of his potential can reach.
5 Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers (2010)
4 Boston Red Sox (2013)
3 Mike Commodore, Carolina Hurricanes (2006)
2 Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants (2010)
1 Lanny McDonald, Calgary Flames (1989)
Lanny McDonald was a Canadian hockey player drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1973. McDonald played seven seasons with Toronto then was traded to the Colorado Rockies in 1979 before finally joining the Calgary Flames where he stayed for the remainder of his career. Although McDonald kept his bushy Lorax mustache through the regular season, his incredible ginger beard only made a special appearance during the Stanley Cup playoffs. It has been the best playoff beard for 25 years and continues to prove that the best playoff beard is also the one hoisting the Stanley Cup.
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