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December 10, 2021

Hockey season means chilly nights, cold beer, punch-ups, toothless players, miraculous saves, hockey hair, stinky equipment and… the Stanley Cup. And for our northern friends, it also means those great institutions, Hockey Night in Canada and Stompin’ Tom Connors singing: “The good old hockey game – it’s the best game you can name!” But here at The Rugged Bros, we’ll sing it as “The good old hockey beard – it’s the best beard! We all cheered!”

That’s because hockey season 2021-2022 means beards! And we’re not just talking about playoff beards. While you might think the best regular season NHL beards are all in the past with those classic bare-fisted rivalries of the helmet-less ‘70s, the modern game has become a furry feast for the eyes. Today a beard on the ice says “Hockey!” as much as a Zamboni.

So move over hockey hair! Check out some of the stunningly rugged hockey beards on the ice this season. Face-offs have never looked better!

A match made in hockey heaven

Hockey and beards were made for each other. In the old days during brutal winters, rugged outdoorsmen grew beards to keep their faces warm. Then those hulking beasts would lace on their skates and take their wild Canadian scarfs onto a frozen pond for an even wilder, no-holds-barred hockey contest.

The image of a dude with skates, a stick and a chin curtain is just quintessentially hockey. And it lives on today, thanks to these rugged NHL bros who you’d never want to square off with in a bench-clearing brawl…

Fierce forwards

  • Joe Thornton, Florida Panthers. If and when he eventually retires, this evergreen 42-year-old legend will be an automatic entry into the NHL Beard Hall of Fame. He’s nicknamed Jumbo Joe for his size, but it should be for his voluminous Grizzly Adams beard.
  • Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers. Recognized mostly for his long, wild mop of hockey hair, Zibanejad’s neatly manicured Verdi beard is a thing of immaculate beauty – and no doubt the secret to his huge scoring over the past three seasons. 
  • Kyle Palmieri, New York Islanders. That inspirational thick thatch is the envy of locker rooms everywhere. It’s like a Brillo pad and doormat became one in perfect union.
  • Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators. In addition to his tight chinstrap beard, the suave Swede has dropped the puck and iced the opposition by cultivating a debonair handlebar mustache.

Devastating defensemen

  • Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks. Holy crap, is that long beard wild and rugged or what?! So awesome! So warrior-like! His lack of teeth just adds to the fierceness of his outstanding Viking look. We would never want to meet Burns at full speed on the ice…
  • Radko Gudas, Florida Panthers. The addition of Gudas to the Panthers’ roster has changed the team from easy pushovers to hardnose badasses. Nicknamed “The Butcher”, we think it should be changed to “The Bear” because that beard of his is grizzly perfection. If he weren’t playing hockey, he’d be a beard model.
  • Duncan Keith, Edmonton Oilers. The beard has been added only in recent years and it’s long overdue. With the flowing hockey hair and the gingery beard, this veteran Canadian couldn’t look any more…well… Canadian. Right on, eh?
  • Jake Muzzin, Toronto Maple Leafs. The huge defenseman can run over opponents like a speeding train. But those massive wiry curls with the thin mustache take Fuzzy Muzzy to another level and give him an incredibly imposing, muscular look.
  • Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings. Another Canadian defenseman not to be messed with. Doughty has been Mr Consistency in his play and the fact he’s played his entire career with one team. Two Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals and an intimidating ducktail-style beard that is on the verge of becoming a full Garibaldi.
  • Nick Leddy, Detroit Red Wings. That beard is sheer dark, thick, sculpted perfection. Enough said.

Grizzly goalies

  • Braden Holtby, Dallas Stars. Stay the hell out of this rugged bro’s crease! That full box beard alone could glove-save any puck fired in its direction. Ironically, Holtby had to leave Canada and the Vancouver Canucks before his thick, luxurious bearded brilliance could truly shine. Maybe teammates should stop tapping Holtby’s pads in their pre-game good luck ritual and touch his chestnut chin thatch.

Player to watch

  • Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings. The Swede currently sports just a small Van Dyke, but looks to be on the verge of sprouting something incredible. And with a jawline from heaven, we’re watching closely because he’s tailor-made for beard brilliance.

The Rugged Bros NHL Hall of Bearded Fame

NHL players frequently look to the greats who blazed a trail before them. And on the shoulders of giants… you’ll find heads with epic NHL beards.

  • Lanny McDonald. Renowned mostly for his beastly fiery red walrus mustache, he appropriately captained the Flames to a Stanley Cup. But it was when McDonald added the playoff beard that the completed look was ruggedness personified. He looked ready to chop down a forest and build his log cabin with his bare hands. 1,100 games, 500 goals, and a cult figure. 
  • Scott Parker. Nicknamed the Sheriff, but should have been called the Viking. The ultimate fierce battle beard on the ultimate hockey warrior.
  • Henrik Zetterberg. That beard was a year-round thing of thick beauty. But when Zetterberg let it flow for playoffs, it was out-stand-ing. Always shapely with an immaculate mustache. It’s never easy for hockey players to look smooth, but Henrik has always been pure model material.   
  • Bill Flett. The ultimate ‘70s beard. RIP, legend.
  • Scott Niedermayer. Gray greatness. One of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013. Four Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, and a World Championship gold medal. But the image of him with the big gray beard lifting the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks will live forever and give us hope.
  • Kris Draper. He played for the Red Wings with the Red Chops from heaven. Draper didn’t always sport a beard, but when he did it was reminiscent of the ultimate badass himself, Chuck Norris.
  • Paul Mara. You know those brushes you clean your golf shoes with? Mara’s beard was like one of them, but in warm chestnut red. When he let it grow for playoffs, it was Swoon City.
  • Inductee in waiting… Joe Thornton. The moment he retires, Joe’s in.

Whew! The NHL features so many hot beards that the ice is in danger of melting. Good thing you’re in the neutral zone at home or in the crowd, where you can kick back with a coldie and avoid crossing the blue line with these bushy badasses. 

We hope you’re inspired now to use the winter time to work on growing your own slap shot beard and keeping it impressively groomed