There’s so much to love about playoff hockey. The intense action. The veteran hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time. Overtime. And, of course, beards. Yes, facial hair has been a big part of the NHL playoff experience for over 30 years now. The general consensus is that the New York Islanders of the 1980s introduced the concept of the playoff beard, and it has taken on a life of its own. Here is a catalog of hirsute hockey faces through the years. Maybe they will even inspire you to put down the razor until the Cup has been raised.
The common belief is that the tradition of the playoff beard began in the NHL with the Islanders of the '80s. Specifically, some say it was Butch Goring who is responsible. Looking at this beard, it's not hard to see why he was all for growing it out.
Goring was a good player, but he wasn't one of the top names in that Islanders dynasty. You think of guys like Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, and Dennis Potvin. Of course three, it's Potvin who had the most gusto in his beard.
The Islanders dynasty begat the Oilers dynasty. Dave Semenko's role was to be the enforcer who kept Wayne Gretzky safe. He also was one of the designated beard (and apparently chest hair) growers.
Ron Hextall managed to win the 1987 Conn Smythe despite playing for the losing team. Maybe if he had grown that mustache out into a full beard things would have worked better for the Flyers that year.
As you can see, the playoff beard hadn't fully taken hold by the late '90s. A few of these guys have beards, but many of them are clean-shaven. The man holding the Cup is Flames legend Lanny McDonald. He has a truly amazing mustache to this day, and he had a fine beard in this title run.
Super Mario was young, and his facial hair shows it. There's just a bit of scruff on his face. The man in the middle, by the way, is Tom Barrasso. That thing over his upper lip is technically a mustache.
Patrick Roy made many trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, with both the Canadiens and Avalanche. He grew a solid beard here but not on the level of some of the beards we've seen in recent seasons.
The Canucks lost to the Rangers in the finals in 1994. However, young captain Trevor Linden did his best to try and get them over the hump. He didn't go full beard, but instead he had a very on-brand for the period goatee.
The 1996 Colorado Avalanche weren't a good beard team, but this photo shows the playoff beard had started to take hold. These aren't beard guys. However, most guys were at least growing their scruff out and not shaving for the playoffs.
The Wings swept the Flyers in the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals. That kept Shanny's goatee from getting too robust. It is remarkably dark, though. Did he dye that thing?
Chris Osgood first joined the Wings as a fresh-faced youngster in the early '90s. To this day he is fairly youthful looking. That's why it's notable to see him with a playoff goatee here in 1998.
Apparently goatees were the thing for hockey players in the '90s. That means the full playoff beard experience hadn't taken hold. Guys were shaving a bit. It wasn't as much about the solidarity of beard growing just yet.
Hey, at least Gomez tried. Clearly facial hair wasn't his thing at the time. Of course, Lemieux isn't bringing his all to the table either. That's a guy who could have definitely grown a beard if he wanted.
With this, Bourque skated off into retirement after winning the 2001 Stanley Cup. It's a nice goatee he's got there. Captain Joe Sakic loses points for being clean-shaven. That's not leadership.
Holmstrom wore a goatee for a lot of his career, including for the '90s title-winning Wings teams. Clearly the playoff beard spirit was starting to take over the NHL — unless you are Luc Robitaille, apparently.
We are safely in the playoff beard era. It took 20 years, but the NHL was being overtaken by playoff beards. They weren't quite "a thing" yet, but most guys were growing them. That includes these two Devils defensemen. Has anybody looked more like a veteran hockey player than Daneyko in this moment?
Brad Richards wasn't the biggest name on the Lightning team that won the Cup in 2004, but he won the Conn Smythe. He's repping adequate facial hair, but he certainly brought more to the table than Vincent Lecavalier. It's not that robust, but for a young forward he manages to at least grow a genuine beard.
We missed a year of playoff beards in 2005. Cam Ward has had a strange career. He won a Cup out the gate as a young goalie but has mostly struggled to reclaim that glory to this day. One thing is for sure: He could grow a helluva beard.
Selanne took the NHL by storm when he scored 76 goals as a rookie. This Cup win came well over a decade later. The Finnish Flash was much less fresh faced, but he certainly could grow a better beard.
Zetterberg became a straight-up beard guy later in his career. He rocked robust facial hair all season long. This is less thick and full than what would become the norm for the former Wings captain. It still works as a playoff beard though.
Here's how you know the NHL had gone playoff beard crazy by this point: Sidney Crosby tried to grow one. Obviously, he wasn't quite up to the task. This was in the Stanley Cup Finals. Hey, at least the Penguins won the Cup in 2009, scraggly "beard" or not.
Speaking of scraggly facial hair, Toews spent most of the playoffs looking like Wolverine with his muttonchops. It was a funny look, at least. Kane at one point grew a "playoff mullet" because facial hair wasn't quite his forte.
How do you make a 6-foot-9 defenseman more imposing? Give him a giant beard. Playoff beards had entered the zeitgeist by this point. Everybody knew about them. You could get fake ones in team stores. They were a thing, on the verge of getting played out.
Here's a photo that shows that the playoff beard had clearly taken hold. Back in the day, you'd see a handful of guys with beards. There are barely any clean-shaven faces in this photo. The Kings were beard crazy, and they had clearly been growing them for a while. Except maybe Dustin Brown.
This is actually less impressive than usual for Keith. Still, he and his Blackhawks teammates were riding the playoff beard trend. After all, you're already super busy. Why worry about shaving?
Remember that photo of Brad Richards earlier? Look how much thicker his beard got in the intervening years. Martin St. Louis is also rocking a nice, graying beard. The less said about Carl Hagelin the better.
Goalies can get into the playoff beard fun too. They spend most of the game with their faces covered by masks, but they can also cover their faces with hair. These two netminders have excellent beards.
Kessel was a bit of a joke at times early in his career...unfairly, might we add. Joining up with the Penguins got him some of the respect he deserved. One thing that's for sure is that his beard merits nothing but respect.
Playoff beards are de riguer now. Basically everybody grows them. If you have scraggly facial hair, you grow a beard. If you are like that guy with the big, blonde beard, you grow one. It's just the thing you do. Beards are more common in the playoffs than clean-shaven faces.
It took a while for Ovechkin to finally hoist the Cup. For years he grew playoff beards for nothing. Then finally, he and his hirsute face got to celebrate winning it all. His beard is worthy of hoisting the Cup.
Now, we just want to celebrate some playoff beards throughout the years, including some of our favorites. Niedermayer is a Hall of Fame-level beardsman. As he got older, it got even better. The gray just oozes veteran presence.
Jumbo Joe has become a year-long beard guy. However, how could you not include a beard like that? It's so massive; so furry. It's glorious facial hair. He's almost more beard than man.
Commodore became a bit of a cult figure with the Hurricanes during their title run in 2008. Part of that is because he wore a bathrobe around. A lot of it was because of his wild mane of red hair, including his fiery beard.
Joe Pavelski has a solid beard, but it can't hold a candle to Weber's. Their beard hierarchy is clearly being established in this photo, with the Predators defenseman putting the Sharks forward in his place.
Burns, like his teammate Thornton, wears a bear all year round. His beard isn't quite as good as Thornton's. It's not as thick. His beard almost looks fake. That being said, in the playoffs he walks right into the top of the beard rankings.
Giguere and the Ducks did not win the Cup. J.S. still managed to win the Conn Smythe like Ron Hextall before him. He doesn't seem happy about it, but he should be proud of two things. One, he carried his team to the finals. Two, that's a great playoff beard.
The playoff mustache went by the wayside at some point when they became less trendy. Don't tell that to Parros. Seriously, don't. He was an enforcer who made his living with his fists. He can wear his facial hair however he wants.
Forsberg went a little more full beard later in his career, but we'll always remember him as an Avalanche. In that time he was more partial to the '90s goatee. This was a pretty strong one.
Lidstrom is a legend. He's one of the best defensemen of all time. He has so many Norris Trophies and Stanley Cups. Alas, he never had a legendary playoff beard.
Fortunately, Lidstrom had teammates who could shoulder the beard load for him. Draper usually had a bit of a beard, but he clearly blew it out for the playoffs. This is a quintessential playoff beard.
Nothing can compare to Jagr's '90s mullet. Eventually, though, he had to shear those locks. Fortunately, he made up for it with his beard late in his career. When you play into your 40s, you're probably going to end up on the salt-and-pepper train.
The Atlanta Thrashers made one playoff appearance and got swept. They never had a chance to really get any playoff beards going. At least Johan Hedberg tried his best.
Briere was a top player on a really good Sabres team in the 2000s. What he couldn't do, though, is grow a beard to save his life. He was already youthful looking, but around all those playoff beards he looks particularly young.
Doan played his entire career with the Coyotes, which meant he didn't see the playoffs all that often. When he could, though, the captain was able to bring a leadership-level beard. Good thing he got at least a few chances to show it.
It took forever for the Blue Jackets as a franchise to make the playoffs, and when they did it took them even longer to finally get a win. In a game, not even a series. That meant limited beard-growing time for the likes of Foligno.
The Panthers drafted Jovanovski first overall, and then he bounced around in his career. Eventually he ended up back in Florida, another team with few playoff appearances. We're glad Jovo-Cop made it back to Miami, because this was a beard worth seeing.
Alfredsson is a Senators legend, but he clearly wasn't able to lead by example on the beard front. Or maybe he simply didn't want to. No, it's the former. We've seen him try. Fisher picks up the slack at least.
Here's a meeting of two great beards. Gaborik didn't have a beard like this back in Minnesota, but by the time he moved to Los Angeles he had turned into a hirsute gentleman. However, nobody can hold a candle to Hank, who wisely wears a beard often.
The Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, did everything together. They got drafted together. They retired together. They signed the same contracts. Oh, and they grew mediocre goatees together.
There haven't been a lot of great beards in Canadiens history. This isn't one of them either, to be fair. Koivu is only an adequate beard grower. Nobody is going to knock him for this, but he's also not going to get a ton of love for it either.
Owen Nolan made his bones in the goatee era, but he kept rocking it well after it was trendy. And yet, it still somehow works for him. Perhaps it's the thickness. Perhaps he just looks like a "goatee guy."
Laine is one of the best young goal scorers in the NHL. He also can grow an insane beard. That's a bold choice for a look. It feels Amish, but there are probably few Amish people in Finland. Hey, if anybody tries to punch him in the chin, his beard will save him.
There are a couple of solid beards in this photo. Nothing remarkable, but solid. Then, there's Jesper Fast in the middle. He's...doing his best.
Bert grew bigger, fuller beards in the future. However, this is still a solid one, and it also allows us to get the rare Wild playoff beard in the photo. Bertuzzi doesn't seem too impressive with it, though.
Stevens made many a deep run in the playoffs. He was the force on the blue line for the Devils many times over. As a '90s tough guy, he figured a goatee was the best way to go. We care about not getting our heads knocked off, so we'll allow it.
Even owners grow playoff beards! Lemieux still doesn't have a robust face covering, but it's better than when he was a young player. Guerin, though, has a great veteran's beard.
Karlsson's nickname, "Wild Bill," is ironic because he's a mild-mannered player. However, he has what certainly qualifies as a wild look. He's got the long hair and a solidly thick, but a bit unusual, beard. Not bad for Vegas' first playoff appearance and also first season.
Getzlaf had an awful bit of fuzz on his chin back during the 2007 Stanley Cup run for the Ducks. He's clearly improved upon that here. Also improving? Toews, who is no longer Wolverine. Now he's just "guy with an OK beard."
Smith was never a big name, but you don't get made a captain for no reason. He was a leader on the blue line. He also bought into the playoff beard before it became ubiquitous. Chris Pronger was the best defenseman on the 2006 Oilers team, but Smith had the top beard.
First, thank goodness the Capitals stopped wearing these jerseys. What were they thinking? Ollie the Goalie and the Caps fell in the finals in 1998, but at least Kolzig, the only NHL player born in South Africa, got to grow out his facial hair.
David Legwand was the first player ever drafted by the Predators. That's why we wanted to include him and his beard. And yet, it's Torres who draws your eye in this photo — not just because of that massive shiner, either.
If you are a Wings fan from the '90s, you hated the Avalanche. What if you aren't a fan of the winged wheel? Just look at Yelle's facial hair. Do you hate the Avalanche now?
During the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals run, Iginla and some other Flames cut their hair into faux hawks. Of course, you can't see those under helmets. You can just see Iginla's decent beard. Regehr's is much better.
We don't know who the guy is walking next to Karlsson, but he has an impressive Amish-style beard. However, we're here to focus on Karlsson's goatee — namely, the way the mustache turns up like he's Snidely Whiplash.
Cam Neely, the man on the left, never got into the playoff beard game. He seems like the kind of player who would have though. He had scruff in "Dumb & Dumber," after all. Lucic's beard isn't just for him. It's for Neely and all the other hard-nosed former Bruins.
First, how beautiful were these old North Stars jerseys? They were gone before the playoff beard became a regular sight. Maxwell got in on the fun, at least against the Islanders, the progenitors of the trend.
Back in the day, some players didn't wear helmets. It was weird. On the other hand, it means we get to see Gillies' resplendent head of hair paired with his beard.
Mara is only remembered for his playoff beard even though he was a decent enough depth defenseman. However, the man could clearly grow a beard. The rise in popularity in the trend was a huge boon for Mara. It made his name. Could you imagine seeing Mara in any NHL article not about beards?
In addition to his Weird Al style hairdo, Hartnell had quite the beard. It's a really thick number, but it doesn't grow out insanely like that of a Brent Burns or a Joe Thornton. He could perhaps use a trim of his hair, but the beard is good to go for the playoffs.
Scott is getting a second appearance, but he's earned it. This beard is even better than the earlier one. However, Rob has a great beard of his own. We assume that is their mom pictured with them. Her playoff beard is a little lacking.
Talbot is another legend of the playoff beard variety. He's played for several teams, but he got to win a Cup with the Penguins, which gave him as much chance as possible to grow out his luscious face locks.
The guy in the Oilers jersey is Dave Semenko, who we mentioned before. Behind him is another Islander Ken Morrow, who clearly has gotten on board with Butch Goring's playoff beard idea.
They say Goring and the Islanders made the playoff beards a thing, but then try and explain Flett. He was rocking a beard back in the '70s. Of course, he was more of a year-long beard dude. Flett kept on wearing a beard well into the '80s, which does technically make him a practitioner of the playoff beard.
Talk about a beard glamour shot. Sure, the water is cascading off his hair, but you're just looking at Holtby's beard. This is a beard that earned a Stanley Cup. It's maybe the best of the bunch.
Here's a rare combo. Parker has a long goat-y little beard, but his head is entirely shaved. He has more hair on his face than on his head. Parker certainly looks intimidating here.
This is like a reverse evolution of man on the beard front, but we're focused on Penner. He briefly became a known name before disappearing off the map. At least we'll always have his beard to remember him by.
Gudas is good for two things: one, providing depth on defense; two, growing a crazy thick beard. Be it with Tampa or Philly, get this man in the playoffs and his facial hair won't disappoint.
Cole is another journeyman defenseman with a penchant for growing out his facial hair. Here's the thing about this photo: It was taken during the first round of the 2019 NHL playoffs. His beard is already that thick! Fingers crossed the Avalanche go deep.
Let's check back in with Crosby and Malkin. When we first looked at Sid the Kid, he couldn't grow facial hair to save his life. Now...well, he's not much better. Both these guys can grow decent mustaches, but the rest of the hair is lagging.
We feel a little let down by Luongo. He can grow a great beard! And yet here he is at the end of the Stanley Cup Finals clean shaven. Thankfully, Thomas didn't make the same decision, because his beard is en pointe.
Cal Clutterbuck is known primarily for his amusing name. Just say it out loud to yourself. However, he can also take credit for his beard. In particular, his mustache is quite thick.
There has never been a more '90s man than Barnaby in this moment. The chin strap beard. The tribal tattoo. The fighting in a hockey game. Give him a can of Surge and put him in front of a screening of "Independence Day."
It's fine if you've never heard of McKay. He's not a big name. All you need to know is he has a tremendous playoff mustache. Also, apparently he was respected enough to be an alternate captain.
It's a bold choice to wear a conference champions hat, especially before your team ends up losing the Stanley Cup to a team from Florida. Well, at least Gelinas has a good beard. It's scraggly, but we assume he just got done playing a game, hence the hat.
Bennett decided to grow a mustache in honor of Lanny McDonald for the 2019 playoffs. That's great. The Flames were upset in the first round by the Avalanche. That's not so great.
First, we're really glad the Sabres went back to their classic look. These uniforms were better than the Sluggalo, but they are no match for their current ensemble. Anyway, Dumont has a great beard. The jerseys aren't worthy of it.
The late Ray Emery did something with his beard few hockey players have done. Namely, he trimmed it quite finely. It's not a great look for anybody, but at least it's different.
Kovalchuk never got to wear a playoff beard as a Thrasher. He couldn't display it again this year, as the Kings didn't make the playoffs in his return to the NHL from the KHL. At least he got to make one run to the finals with the Devils, because he had a solid beard.
Here's a stark reminder of how far the playoff beard has come. The 1994 Rangers were basically beard-free. There's only one guy with a notable beard, and your eye is definitely drawn to the wound on his nose.
Here's something rare. It's the Great One with facial hair. For almost his entire run, he was clean-shaven. Here, he is sporting an adequate goatee as a King.
The guy on the Islanders whose face you can't see is Goring, but we know he can carry the beard mantle. We haven't featured the other two guys yet. Nystrom, the one on the ground, has a fine mustache, and Tonelli has clearly gotten in on the beard fun.
In the forefront is Zetterberg, who we've seen before. This is far from the best we've seen his beard. Modano became a stubbly guy as the years went on, but here he is a little thicker on the facial hair front. Eventually, he'd join the Red Wings and become beard bros with Hank.
Lemieux was in the playoffs a ton, so he got a chance to show off his facial hair several times. This is a bit of a lackluster effort, though. On the other hand, we never mind seeing some gray hair on a face. It really notches up the veteran presence vibes.
It's back-to-back old Sharks. You can see a clean-shaven Roenick on NBC Sports these days, but he used to be a player with some pretty good beard growth. He can't hold a candle to Turco though.
We've already praised Butch Goring, so we don't need to do that again. Broten had a fine career, including his time with the North Stars. The playoff beard was still new, and so was Broten as an NHLer. His facial hair shows that.
We wanted to throw in a couple of more Coyotes. Aucoin has a totally fine beard. It's not thick, but it's also not patchy. Morris' little chin patch leaves something to be desired.
Aleksander Barkov is covering his face with his stick, and with good cause. His facial hair is lacking. Jagr has a good beard here, but Huberdeau's is better. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to show it off in the postseason much.
McDavid is the NHL's best player. Alas, he's only been able to appear in the playoffs once. When he did, he showed some facial hair promise. He's already ahead of the Sidney Crosby curve.
Stamkos and the Lightning lost to Jay Beagle and the Capitals in the playoffs in 2018. At least the Lightning star knows that he's won the beard battle between these two. Stamkos has one of the better NHL beards as well.
2019 has turned out to be a banner year for the Blue Jackets. They've made the second round of the playoffs for the first time in their franchise history. Finally, their players can grow playoff beards. Savard clearly got a head start. He's already in legendary hockey beard status.