SHARKS C TORREY MITCHELL'S RESPECTABLE 2010 PLAYOFF BEARD
The San Francisco Giants rode closer Brian Wilson and his Fear the Beard power to a World Series title last November. It broke a 56-year championship drought for the city by the bay. The ensuing celebration is only starting to die down 5 months later.
The San Jose Sharks entered their seventh straight postseason as a darkhorse second seed. While the Giants shocked the baseball world to put together a surprising World Series run, the Sharks have been Stanley Cup favorites or contenders for a number of years only to fall short. That changed this year. The Vancouver Canucks were the sexy pick out of the West, and any number of teams that couldn’t last a week in the Pacific Division grindhouse received most of the pub back East.
This year the Sharks are ralling around the playoff beard, and it has paid off. In regulation so far this postseason, San Jose is 2-2. In overtime, a perfect 4-0. Did some of Brian Wilson’s beard intimidation mojo make the trip down highway 101 to San Jose? “They had one big beard,” Torrey Mitchell told the Mercury News. “We’ve got a bunch of little beards.”
The attempt to bring to fruition the Chicago Blackhawks playoff mullet thankfully died an early death last year, but the playoff hockey beard has it’s own long and storied tradition. Utilized in the 80′s by a New York Islanders dynasty that won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83 (and lost to Edmonton in the Stanley Cup Finals in 84), the tradition was reintroduced to modern hockey with the New Jersey Devils run in 1995. The Devils won three Stanley Cups over the next nine seasons (95, 00, 03). Hockey players are a particularly superstious lot, and based on those results the playoff beard became a defacto league standard. The Sharks adopted the tradition, and asked players and fans to join in an effort to raise money for local causes.
In the third annual beardathon, the team is asking fans to sponsor individual beards to raise money for the Sharks Foundation. The two main players on the beard leaderboard are right wing Devin Setoguchi and center Logan Couture. Setoguchi laid down the gauntlet at the start of the playoffs. “Its a beard-a-thon, not a mustache-a-thon or peach-fuzz-a-thon” Setoguchi said of the follically challenged 22-year old Couture. Fans back a long shot, and Logan leads Seto in pledges $1000 to $900.
In a random 10-player Sharks lockerroom sample, all 10 players agreed that veteran defenseman Niclas Wallin had the best playoff beard. A confident Wallin even voted for himself. “For sure, there’s no question about that,” he said. Eager may be a candidate down the stretch, but Wallin has done the best job to date of recapturing the vacationing pirate look Brian Wilson made popular last year.
There is only one question that remains. Will the actual Brian Wilson beard make an appearance at the Stanley Cup Playoffs in San Jose?