If you follow the game of hockey then you know that the players take great pride in their appearances. Usually at the start of the season the players have new haircuts, their new hockey jerseys are immaculate, and their faces are nicely clean-shaven. Then, as the playoffs begin, we’ll start to see the players grow some stubble. Soon, they have a face with a nicely shaped beard and moustache. Can this be a big hockey tradition?
Yes, it turns out that the NHL teams do have specific playoff traditions and superstitions. They feel it can be bad luck to shave during their time in the playoffs. There are also other traditions involving winning the Stanley Cup too. Even the fans can get in on the action, though we haven’t seen them start growing beards yet.
Perhaps the most well-known tradition is the handshake. This is done at the end of each team game elimination. Each team lines up in a row and they shake each other’s hands, moving down the row. It’s believed this tradition is older than the NHL itself, though no one knows where it really started. It’s certainly not inclusive to the NHL either.
Funnily enough, not everyone may take part. In the 2008 series, rivals Martin Brodeur and Sean Avery refused to shake hands, particularly after a nasty bought of stick waving in front of the Devils’ net. And in 2014, death threats were uttered by Boston player Milan Lucic to Dale Weise of the Montreal Canadiens.
Most players won’t shave during the playoffs until the series is over. If the team has made it to the final playoffs, they won’t shave until that final handshake has been done at the end of the series.
According to the best electric shaver site the tradition began with one hockey team deciding to grow their beards as part of a bonding exercise. The rule was to not shave until the team was eliminated or went onto the finals and won or lost that final game. Most likely it was started by the New York Islanders in the 1980s. The Philadelphia Flyers started around that time too. But there is evidence that this practice dates back even further to 1974, when Bill Flett won the Cup.
Not every team has been onboard with the beard tradition though. In 1994 the New York Rangers refused to grow beards because their rival team, the Isles, were doing the same.
One tradition that fans are fond of doing now is to wear all the same colour at a hockey game. This is popular at both NHL and NBA playoff games. It’s believed that this tradition first started during the 1986 to 1987 NHL playoffs in Canada when all Calgary fans wore red, and Winnipeg fans wore white. Not surprisingly, most of the stadium wore white as the last game played in Winnipeg.
In 1982, a Canucks hockey coach was mad at a ruling made so he attached a towel to a stick and waved it in the air. The entire team did the same in protest. Today, when you attend a playoff game you may be handed a towel as you enter the arena.
It’s also considered bad luck to touch any team trophy when a player is on the road to the Stanley Cup finals. This is believed to have started in the late 1990s. But there have been some team captains who don’t believe that it’s bad luck at all. Red Wings player Steve Yzerman, and Devils’ captain Scot Stevens both touched the cup in advance and went on to win their respective games.
The winner of the Cup is first presented to the team captain. He does a lap around the rink with it, then his teammates take the cup and do a lap around the rink with it. During the off-season time, each player is also allowed to have the cup for one full day.
In 1950, the first player to hoist the Cup and skate around the ice was Ted Lindsday of the Red Wings. Since then, every Cup winner has done it.
Interesting Cup traditions date right back to 1896. The Winnipeg Victorias team won the finals and actually drank champagne right from the cup.
We’re not sure just how quickly the winning team shaves their beards off after they win or lose the Stanley Cup. Just imagine all the hair left in the change room sinks after they leave the arena and head out for a night of partying!