In the modern hockey world, players are covered in equipment from head to toe, so even in close-up only the front of their visage can be seen by fans watching on TV. But in the old days, when helmets were not part of the game, a player’s appearance was part of his on-ice personality. Think of the long curly locks of Ron Duguay or “the blond demon” Guy Lafleur streaking up ice; the headband worn by Henry Boucha; the meticulous coif of Bobby Orr.
In the Original Six, facial hair was non-existent, as owners expected their players to be well groomed on and off the ice. In the 1970s, wild haircuts became more common as players began to express themselves more freely in the era of the Players’ Association and increased rights.
Montreal’s Doug Harvey shaved before every game for good luck. (photo credit 2.5)
DOUG HARVEY Photo Gallery
For Doug Harvey, one of the greatest defencemen of all time, his regimen was simple. He shaved before every game. This was part superstition, part practical. On the one hand, a clean-shaven face felt good for him and made him play better. On the other hand, as goalie Turk Broda used to say, a clean face stitches easier. And, truth be told, not a game went by without at least a couple of players requiring stitches, so it was always better to make that part of the evening as painless and seamless as possible.
Looks were important for Harvey, but with or without the smooth face, he always looked good when he played.
QUICK SHOT JOHAN HEDBERG
When goalie Johan Hedberg made his NHL debut, with Pittsburgh in 2000-01, it was as a last-minute call-up from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. Because Hedberg was still wearing his mask with a large moose painted on it, Penguins fans immediately started “mooing” him (not booing), giving him the instant nickname of “Moose.” During a game, his superstition begins as soon as he freezes the puck to stop play. He cradles the puck in his glove and must flip it three times before handing it over to the linesman.
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