I haven’t done this for a long time since I’ve been busy working, networking, tweeting, and catching up on stuff. I’m also thinking about this heat wave that DC has been in for almost a month. I would love it that the terrible blizzard earlier this year would return. I can’t do that, but there is one recipient that will remind us of winter in summer. Ladies and gentlemen, your next recipient of the Mel Kiper Award:
Between 1979 to 1984, the New York Islanders won 4 straight Stanley Cups. They were the dynasty of the early 1980s with players like Mike Bossy, Ken Morrow, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith and others; and Al Arbour giving instructions behind the bench. What made this team special was not the players, the coach, Long Island. They were remembered for two words: PLAYOFF BEARDS!!!
The Islanders were credited of creating the playoff beards and the rest is history. The playoff beards did four things:
Before the 1979 season in 1976-1978, the Islanders were a great regular season team. However, they were eliminated in the semifinals in those years and people were wondering if they can ever win a big series. In the 1979-1980 season, they only had 91 points, but won the Stanley Cup that year. All it took was a change in culture (or in this case, hair growth on the jaw line) and when a few players grew their beards, the Islanders won Stanley Cup after Stanley Cup for 4 seasons.
By growing their playoff beards, the Islanders players look at Ken Morrow and others that when the playoff beard is growing, it starts to get serious. This gave the Islanders an incentive to play harder each game and series so they want to see their own players grow their beards until they touch the Stanley Cup.
After the Islanders dynasty ended, teams were trying to do their own traditions: The Winnipeg Jets did the whiteout, teams didn’t touch the conference trophies, playoff mullets, mohawks, you name it. All these superstitions gave belief that one day, they can touch the Stanley Cup. Not only the playoff beards spread the NHL, it has spread to other sports leagues believing by growing their playoff beard, they have a shot at a title. Fortunately for the New York Islanders, they won 4 straight and 19 straight playoff series, which will never be accomplish again in our lifetime in any sport.
The New York Islanders sole purpose of growing the beard was winning the Stanley Cup and have achieve that, but the playoff beard had a life on its own. Teams and the NHL itself, encourage players and fans to grow their beards to not only support their team, but do it for a real cause. A few years ago, the NHL started a Beard-A-Thon for fans to grow their beards during the playoffs and to donate money to various charities. In 2010, the Beard-a-Thon raised over $300,000 to the NHL team charities.
If it weren’t for the playoff beards, would we talk about the New York Islanders being a dynasty in the early 1980s? We would never know and gladly don’t have to because the playoff beard change history and fate for the Islanders and for that: Thank you, New York Islanders.