An excerpt from my latest column for the Chicago Tribune.
NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus is thrilled about the growth of hockey on NBC, but he has one request to its players: Please shave during the postseason.
Lazarus said he has lobbied the NHL and its players to end the tradition of the playoff beards. He believes the excess facial hair hurts player recognition for fans, perhaps hindering the development of new stars during the highest-rated games of the season.
“The players won’t like this, but I wish they all would stop growing beards in the postseason,” Lazarus said. “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,’ which many of these guys do. I think that would be a nice thing.”