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Column: With playoffs looming, time to grow those beards out

By Ryan Tolmich
On April 14, 2014

Last Monday, I found myself in Dallas for the National Championship game where, like many other UConn fans, I found myself doing whatever I could to push the Huskies to victory. I made sure to wear the same 1959 Jonathan the Husky shirt along with the same Hawaiian UConn hat that I had worn for the previous victory. I talked to the same kids, who had pushed their ways to the same spot that were praying, just praying, for the same result as the previous game.
Superstition is a part of sports. During no-hitters or perfect games, a pitcher is left alone in the dugout out of fear of disturbing that magic going on between the lines. Michael Jordan famously wore his University of North Carolina shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform in order to carry on the luck that started during his time in Chapel Hill.
However, the start of the sporting world's best superstition starts this week. Throw out your razors, men, it is time to bring out the NHL Playoff beard.
For the uninitiated, every year during the NHL Playoffs both players and fans alike grow a "good luck" beard in an effort to push their team to victory. The origins of the practice are not entirely known, but it is generally accepted that they date back to the New York Islanders of the '80s.
Some say the beards were initially grown out of team unity. Some say they were grown to remind the grower each and every morning of the task at hand. Some say it was even just time constraints, as the grueling NHL Playoff schedule left little time for such tedious acts as shaving.
Regardless of its origins, the playoff beard has long been a symbol of hockey's ultimate tournament.
Each and every year, beards of all different shapes and sizes appear. Some are magisterial, full-blown Paul Bunyan masterpieces. Some (like mine) are little more than decorated scruff that would fit right in with most middle school aged pubescent.
Regardless of the beard's size or shape, it's that time of year, folks. Pucks are dropping, beards are growing and, if you're lucky, you won't have to look for your razor until the Stanley Cup is awarded in mid-June.
It's playoff season. May the best beard win.

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