The playoff beard is a tradition among North American sports teams, especially in the NHL, where players don’t shave during postseason contests for good luck. It started with the 1980 New York Islanders and has become a ritual among most NHL teams. Fans also grow playoff beards to show support and sometimes for charity fundraising. The tradition has been adopted by some athletes in other sports but hasn’t achieved the same popularity as among hockey players.
The playoff beard is a superstitious tradition among North American sports teams, especially those in the National Hockey League (NHL), in which players don’t shave their beards during postseason contests to bring good luck to their teams. This practice was started by the New York Islanders of the NHL in 1980 and has since become a ritual among most NHL teams. The tradition of the playoff beard has even been adopted by some athletes in other professional and non-professional sports, although it hasn’t achieved the same popularity it enjoys among hockey players. Many NHL fans show support for their favorite team by growing playoff beards, sometimes as part of a charity fundraising drive.
The playoff beard tradition is believed to have been established by the 1980 New York Islanders. The players of this NHL team began collectively avoiding razors as they entered the playoffs and several weeks later won the league’s national championship. Convinced that their beards brought them good luck, they continued the practice into the following postseason period. By 1984, the Islanders had won four straight championships, and the playoff beard was firmly established as an NHL tradition after the season. In the early 21st century, players on nearly every team in the NHL can be seen sprouting facial hair as they make the playoffs, with the more outrageous accomplishments often becoming the butt of jokes on sports talk shows.
Athletes in other sports, professional and otherwise, have also periodically revived the tradition of the playoff beard. Notably, he has been seen from time to time among players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL), as well as those on Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. Overall, however, the custom has never achieved the same level of popularity among the athletes of these sports as it enjoys among hockey players.
Many NHL fans choose to show support for their favorite franchise by growing beards alongside that team’s players. Like players, these fans shave their beards only after their team wins the championship or is eliminated from the playoffs. Some fans grow playoff beards as part of a charity fundraising drive. Typically, these initiatives involve agreeing to grow a beard in exchange for monetary promises that can come from family, friends, co-workers, and so on. These pledges are then donated to a charitable organization which may be selected by the fan himself or may be selected by a philanthropic arm of his or her favorite NHL organization.