Patrick Kane Matures as a Scorer ... And Beard-Grower
In 2010, the then-stubbly Kane scored the Stanley Cup-clinching tally in overtime of Game 6 of the finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. He was just 21 at the time, and his inability to grow a full playoff beard was obvious to everyone watching the finals.
Flash forward three years later, and there was a fully-bearded No. 88 lighting the lamp three times Saturday in Game 5 against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals. The double-overtime goal that completed his hat trick sent the Hawks back to the Cup Finals.
And it has given Kane, 24, a chance to keep growing his blondish-brown beard, which is puffy, thick and more mature than ever.
"It's like a neck beard," said Kirk Merchant, 36, the owner of Andre's Barber Shop in Lakeview. "When you go into battle, you want to look more fearsome. It's nice having a big, scraggily beard. It's more respectable than before."
Playoff beards in the NHL began in the early 1980s with the four-time Cup champion New York Islanders, whose star player Denis Potvin said "they came organically."
Since then, the beards have been a part of postseason lore, from the giant red beard of Calgary's Lanny McDonald to the salt-and-pepper look of Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer. Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger made news in the 2010 playoffs simply because he refused to grow a beard.
Merchant said only a few of the Hawks, including the well-coifed Patrick Sharp, should feel comfortable being seen in public. He said Kane and most of the other Chicago players look like "homeless people" with their lack of a trimmed beard.
"Some just have a hair pile on their face," he said.
Caccavella, 33, sports a 5-inch beard that he maintains year-round. "If one more person asks me if I have a playoff beard, I'm going to smack them," he said.
Since the Hawks began their playoff run in late April, Caccavella has seen "10 to 20 percent" more customers with beards.
Many of them, he said, cite Kane as inspiration.
"Definitely the best playoff beard on the team," Caccavella said. "That's the one that's most known. He is definitely the one who's pushing that beard trend going forward."