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Can the Leafs grow playoff beards?

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Spoiler: Mostly, no

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the playoffs come all the grand traditions that are associated with them. Some are awful (call a fucking penalty, refs, it won’t kill you). Some are cool (handshake lines). And some are fun.

Playoff beards fall into the last category. While the Leafs normally have a no facial hair rule under Lou Lamiorello, this only applies to the regular season, as confirmed by Brendan Shanahan earlier this week.

Shanny says what we’re all thinking. The Leafs are young. So young, that it’s very questionable what their facial hair even looks like. With that in mind, Arvind and Annie explore how we think they’ll do.

The Leaders

Roman Polak

Arvind: This is why you acquire Roman Polak. Look at that beard. It’s full and thick, but it’s not running rampant over his face either. It’s menacing, but groomed. It’s the beard that says “I’m gonna run you from behind, but I’m also gonna look good doing it”.

Annie: The adjective that comes to mind here is “lush”, and it’s an adjective I did not expect to use today to describe Roman Polak. Look at it! It’s like a teddy bear’s fur. I bet he uses beard oil.

Nazem Kadri

Arvind: This is what Kadri looks like under a no-beard policy. He probably shaved that morning. Even if the Leafs are swept, Kadri will have a damn good beard by the time it ends.

Annie: There’s so much potential here. This is like a coming-out party for Nazem Kadri’s beard. It doesn’t matter how the Leafs look on the ice—I expect to witness greatness.

Leo Komarov

Arvind: Finding a picture for Komarov was the easiest part of writing this. We all know he can grow a great beard. If Kadri is the breakout beard star of the team, Leo is the All-Star in his prime. We know what we’re getting out of him, and we know it will be great.

Annie: Agreed. Komarov’s a champion-level beard grower. The question is, will he rest on his laurels, or will he try to do something creative to up the ante? I’m hoping for some kind of creative braiding technique, or possibly beadwork.

Arvind: For sure. The temptation is there to bust out the handlebar moustache again, but we’ve seen that. Komarov really needs to innovate here.

The Gingers

Connor Brown

Arvind: Connor Brown’s beard is an analogy for his game. It’s solid. He gets bonus points for just how ginger it is. I also appreciate that he could dress this beard up, or go full degenerate, Brent Burns style. Like his game, his beard is versatile.

Annie: The patchiness on his upper lip is the only thing holding Brown’s beard back from true first-line beard status.

Frederik Andersen

Chicago Blackhawks v Anaheim Ducks - Game Two Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Arvind: That’s right, we have TWO ginger beards. How many ginger beards does Washington have? Not as many as we do. Checkmate, nerds.

Annie: It’s a shame he’s a goalie. That beard is ginger enough to distract the opposing team.

Why Don’t You Take a Seat?

Tyler Bozak

Arvind: KILL IT WITH FIRE

Annie: Is that a soul patch, or a zit? I should not need to ask.

The Disney Villains

Brian Boyle

Pittsburgh Penguins v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Four Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Arvind: That’s a quality moustache-beard combo there. He looks cerebral, evilly plotting to win all the defensive zone faceoffs Babcock will put him out there for. I expect him to put in a strong showing, justifying the Leafs’ choice to acquire him at the trade deadline.

Annie: That is Captain Morgan wearing a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform and no one can convince me otherwise. Unlike many of his teammates, Boyle has a strong mustache showing, adding important variety.

William Nylander

Arvind: I bet you’re surprised to see Nylander capable of growing a beard. Never forget, Swedish guys can pull off any look. This was a year ago with the Marlies, and like the rest of his game, we’ll likely see large improvement this year. He does kind of look like the main antagonist on a CW teen drama though.

Annie: I am shocked. My mind is blown. I, too, am guilty of underestimating Willie Nylander’s ability. At least it didn’t make me draft Jake Virtanen.

Arvind: Side note, because I never miss a chance to make fun of the Canucks for selecting Jake Virtanen over William Nylander:

Another fun fact: Jake Virtanen has 18 points in 62 AHL games. William Nylander has 18 NHL points since February 28 (20 games).

The Questionables

Auston Matthews

Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

Annie: There’s stubble on his face, so Matthews is clearly capable of growing facial hair. The fact that pictures of him with facial hair don’t seem to exist would imply that his beard, unlike the rest of him, is not very good.

Arvind: His dad has a nice, well-groomed beard. I think in future playoff years, he’ll provide us with some quality beard action. But he’s just not ready yet. Though, given his other fashion choices, I’m surprised he hasn’t posted a photo of a wispy moustache on Instagram.

Mitch Marner

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Arvind: Mitch Marner is who fans are thinking about when they question the Leafs’ beard-growing ability. He’s proven me wrong before, but I’m a doubter of his facial hair.

Annie: So is Mitch Marner.

Kasperi Kapanen

This is the picture of Kapanen with the most facial hair, that I could find. Lets just say he won’t be a beard standout.

Annie: That wispy little mustache is definitely...present! It...exists!

Morgan Rielly

Toronto Maple Leafs v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Annie: Rielly’s a wild card. He’ll either put up a respectable showing, or his beard will be so blond that it’s basically invisible and we’ll all laugh. Could go either way.

Arvind: My money is on the latter.

Connor Carrick

Arvind: Carrick is a low-key sleeper on ‘most attractive Leafs’ lists, but his beard may dock him a few points. But you have to admire his effort. Much like his game, he’ll give it his all, even if he’s put in a situation that’s hard for him to succeed in.

Annie: I think a scruffy beard suits Carrick’s playing style. It’s not going to grab a ton of praise, but he is quietly holding up his end of the deal and contributing to the team effort. Points for trying, Connor.

Arvind: His eyebrows look great in that picture, though.

The Guys Who Definitely Won’t Try to Grow a Beard

Nikita Zaitsev

There’s no picture of Zaitsev with a beard.

Jake Gardiner

Arvind: He’s the Marner of the defence group.

Annie: I have seen no evidence that Gardiner can grow any hair on his face. Ever.

The Rest

James van Riemsdyk

Arvind: It’s quite sad that JVR will have the best beard on his line, by some distance. Babcock will have to shelter this group’s usage very carefully - you don’t want them exposed against strong Capitals beards.

Annie: Can you imagine them out there against Ovechkin and Shattenkirk? Carnage. Beard carnage.

Zach Hyman

Arvind: While some may see a scratchy, ineffective beard with Hyman, I feel the scruffy look suits his face, and his gameplay. He’s a guy who does the dirty work, while Nylander and Matthews do the dancing. His beard lets him look the part.

Annie: This beard makes Hyman, a normally adorable young man, look almost threatening. I love it. Disney villain Willie Nylander needs a henchman.

Matt Martin

Arvind: This isn’t a bad beard, by any means. But I expected a little more out of him. It’s a little patchy on the sides. The facial hair isn’t as thick as you would like it to be. Ideally, you’d like a tough guy like Martin to have a beard that signifies said toughness. Martin’s doesn’t quite get there.

Annie: It’s hard to picture this beard on Toronto-era, short-haired Matt Martin. Will a new haircut upgrade the look from “vaguely skeezy” to “handsomely scruffy”? We’ll keep a close eye on him.

Matt Hunwick

Arvind: No, I couldn’t find a better picture of his beard. Good thing he’s paired with Polak, because this is weak, especially for a veteran.

Annie: There’s always a possibility Hunwick could surprise us, but after all, he’s used to being carried by his D-partner. This is one situation that Polak has well in hand.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to /u/Flintor on /r/leafs, who had a useful post for finding photos of players that included some facial hair.