Sports Illustrated- “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.”
Now, I understand what this guy's point is, but in reality it makes no sense. I don't understand how hard it is for people that are responsible for making important decisions to realize that there are 3 demographics of people in terms of hockey fandom. You have the people that will watch no matter what, the people that won't watch at all, and the people that casually watch during the playoffs. The people that are always tuned in would know what these guys looked like if they were in blackface with a patch over their eye, so I am assuming we are worried about the casual fan here? Guess what, the casual fan is watching for the entertainment value. He doesn't care about a bunch of European guys with extravagant beards. He isn't going to be the difference between a hockey player's popularity reaching a point where endorsements become a real possibility or not. The casual fan isn't spending money on hockey. He's enjoying the NHL playoffs for what they are, an edge of your seat thrill ride. He is watching because it's convenient, not because he has strong ties to any of the players.
One of the coolest aspects of the NHL postseason is the tradition and superstition. One of the coolest aspects of hockey players in general is how they are willing to dedicate everything, including their appearance, to winning the Stanley Cup. Why ruin that so a bunch of people that won't care about hockey in a few weeks will find Steven Stamkos attractive or will be able to pick Patrick Sharp out of a lineup? We are talking about hockey players here. No one is paying any more attention or any less attention because a player looks like 'the boy next door'. If they were that interested they would pay attention during the regular season. Let's try not to reinvent the wheel here Mark. These guys are professional athletes playing one of the most physically demanding games on the planet. We don't need to worry about their appearance like they are set to host Saturday Night Live or star in the pilot of a new NBC sitcom. The people you are concerned about are the same people that are already fully invested in the sport, no matter what it's athletes look like.