Hockey players are a different breed. For starters, they take toughness to a whole other level. Take a slap shot to the face or lose some teeth? Just get it stitched up and get back on the ice while barely missing a shift. Ditto for sportsmanship as evidenced by the ceremonial handshakes at the end of a playoff series. Then there’s the unusual traditions like Detroit Red Wings fans throwing an octopus onto the ice. Maybe it has to do with playing in small Canadian towns with names like Medicine Hat and Kamlooops, but hockey players are just different.
The unique traits extend to grooming. With the NHL playoffs in full swing, players are proudly rocking their corresponding playoff beards. Then there’s the hair. There isn’t “football hair” or “baseball hair,” but there is “hockey hair.” Sweet, sweet hockey hair. Hockey embraced the mullet in a tight bro-hug and never let go. Business in front, party in back is a way of life in the NHL. The locks have a way of making a player look faster as they flow behind his helmet while he streaks down the ice.
But all hockey hair is not created equal. The same way that certain players have a harder slap shot, some guys pull off a mullet with added flair. Before the Stanley Cup finals get underway, it’s a good time to revisit the greatest heads of hockey hair of all time.
10. RICK TOCCHET
During the early part of his career with the Philadelphia Flyers, Tocchet looked like he belonged on the cover of a teen magazine with his thick mane that would make MacGyver jealous. Alas, time has not been kind to Tocchet. While he is still an assistant coach in the NHL, he plead guilty in 2007 to backing a gambling ring and is also bald.
9. SCOTT HARTNELL
Not sure what it is about the City of Brotherly Love that produces epic hockey hair, but during his time with the Flyers, Hartnell picked up the mantle established by Tocchet. Hartnell’s curly orange hair was more mop than mullet, but no less glorious. Hartnell and his hair even had a cameo in This is 40. Sadly, when he joined the Columbus Blue Jackets, he opted for a more clean cut look.
8. PATRICK ROY
Goalies are not immune to the wonders of hockey hair. Roy became a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest netminders in NHL history with a full-on mullet. While his hockey hair was a little less obvious behind his goalie mask, it was no less potent. Today, as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche, Roy has more of a traditional ‘do, but anyone who remembers him pioneering butterfly-style goalkeeping with the Montreal Canadiens will never forget his mullet.
7. BARRY MELROSE
Most proponents of hockey hair eventually grow out of the look. Not Melrose. The former coach and current ESPN commentator (and host of the completely non-sensical Barry’s Bistro segment) proudly clings to his mullet. It has some more grey in it, but you have to admire him for his consistency.
6. ZIGGY PALFFY
One of the most underappreciated players to lace up skates, Palffy’s hair deserves its due as well. Look at that thing. With the shaved sides, it’s basically a long mohawk that seems to stand up on its own without any artificial substances. Also, his name is Ziggy. Doesn’t get much better than that.
5. PATRICK KANE
Huge props to the Chicago Blackhawks’ Kane for keeping hockey hair alive. While most players adopt a playoff beard in the postseason, Kane has taken to sporting a mullet come playoff time. And not just any mullet, one with tracks shaved into the sides. Don’t ever change, Patrick.
4. WAYNE GRETZKY
Owing to his time in Los Angeles and New York, Gretzky was one of the more stylish players in the league. But the Great One began his NHL career in Edmonton, not exactly known as a fashion capital, and his hair showed it.
3. AL IAFRATE
Hard charging and hard living is a great way to describe Iafrate. During his time in the NHL, Iafrate had one of the hardest slap shots, which routinely clocked in at 100 mph. He also smoked cigarettes between periods. Knowing that makes it easier to understand why Iafrate kept his hair long in the back despite having next to none of it on top.
2. RON DUGUAY
Duguay was one of the more stylish players in the NHL in the 80s. And since it was the 80s that meant having hair metal hair. If Duguay’s hockey career hadn’t panned out, he could have enjoyed success playing Jon Bon Jovi in a cover band.
1. JAROMIR JAGR
It may come as a surprise that the owner of the greatest hockey hair is not Canadian, but rather Czechoslovakian. Jagr’s prowess on the ice is in a league with only a handful of players, including Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. But his hair? His hair is without compare. It stood taller and cascaded further. Like Samson, some part of Jagr’s power has to be attributed to his locks. It’s the only way to explain that he is still playing in the NHL at age 43.