Mark Lazarus, the chairman of NBC Sports, says NHL players should shave their traditional playoff beards to help fans recognize them more easily.
“The players won't like this, but I wish they all would stop growing beards in the postseason,” Lazarus told the Chicago Tribune. “Let's get their faces out there. Let's talk about how young and attractive they are. What model citizens they are. (Hockey players) truly are one of a kind among professional athletes. I know it's a tradition and superstition, but I think (the beards do) hurt recognition. They have a great opportunity with more endorsements. Or simply more recognition with fans saying, 'That guy looks like the kid next store [sic],' which many of these guys do. I think that would be a nice thing.”
The tradition began with the New York Islanders dynasty of the 1980’s and was eventually adopted by the rest of the NHL. For the past six years, the NHL has sponsored a charity “beard-a-thon” that has raised over $3 million for hockey-related charities in North America.
NBC Sports has been the exclusive rights holder for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2004 and agreed to a 10-year extension worth $2 billion in 2011.
- Dan Gartland