Just this past weekend, the New York Islanders did something they hadn’t accomplished in 23 years; they won a playoff series.
You’d think that the franchise’s mark hasn’t been made on the postseason for some time because of that. Instead, the influence of their ’80s dynasty era can be felt if you rub against the hairy faces of most players deep in this race for the Stanley Cup.
We’re talking, of course, about the playoff beard.
Yes, the team that won four consecutive Stanley Cups also began the tradition that inspires many to put down their razors and possibly upset their spouses for all these years.
And, really, the old story about the Wayne Gretzky-era Edmonton Oilers stumbling upon the beat-up Islanders after the Isles’ championship victory fits the playoff beard mentality perfectly (via NHL.com):
Years later, several Oilers stars saw the defeat as a necessary learning experience. In fact, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier both admitted they were impacted by walking past the Islanders dressing room after Game 4 to see the four-time defending champs sitting with ice bags, rather than engaging in a wild championship celebration. In their minds, they were made aware that more sacrifice would be needed to climb the final rungs to a title.
Just a bunch of tired, bearded champions who gave their all to keep what was theirs … teaching those youngsters how it’s done.
If that’s not the essence of all that is Playoff Beard, then what is?