Being born with a great hockey name can help get attention heading into a professional career, especially when you play the sport, but over the last few seasons it hasn’t been the name to grab attention.
One off-season and beard later, Colton Saucerman has developed multiple nicknames due to his appearance, and the most popular one is perfect for the upcoming holiday season.
“That’s the one that stuck the most,” said Saucerman. “Actually, yesterday I was called Dan Bilzerian. I was at a gas station, and they said I look like Dan Bilzerian. Of course, I don’t think he looks anything like me. Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones. Gimli from Lord of the Rings. Those three are the main ones.”
However you refer to him, the appeal for Saucerman’s facial hair is undeniable, making a stark first impression most places he goes. In airports, in Boise, in other cities. Even the Internet has had a little fun, including the Steelheads.
Unlike Yukon or Gimli or Tormund, his voice isn’t brash and coarse but smooth and well-mannered. There’s no tribal instinct or lust for silver and gold nuggets. His beard reflects this demeanor: refined, full and jovial. Even though it looks similar to those of his nicknames’ sake, the motivation behind its start—for that matter, its continuation—differ from the need for warmth from the cold or cultural stipulations.
“It started basically just because I have to shave my head. My hairline is going, and I was kind of up and down about shaving my head. I was living in Salt Lake City with a buddy of mine, and one day he said to me, ‘Dude, just do it and then grow out the beard. It would look unreal.’”
Saucerman already had a smaller beard at Northeastern University, and it helped toward the end of his senior season during the NCAA Tournament for the college version of playoffs. It wouldn’t have taken much to continue its growth, just a commitment to the idea and going down the rabbit hole. And that’s just what he did.
He hemmed and hawed over keeping it heading into the next season, but after arriving in South Carolina for training camp that fall, the attention he earned forced his hand.
“It was kind of my thing. I was known for having a great beard and no hair.”
WCIV, an ABC-affiliated television station in Charleston, S.C., did the first bonafied story just on his beard, and it only took a few days in training camp for word to get out around the area and the hockey community about the newest commodity. The story delved deeper into the origins and reactions from his teammates, and multiple other teams during his stop along the way have taken note, even being dubbed “The Best Beard in Hockey.”
But what does it take to maintain such a thick facial mop?
The Art of Shaving, a “barber spa” nestled in downtown Charleston right across the street from a Rack Room Shoes and next to a Sunglasses Hut, is what’s considered the nucleus of Saucerman’s maintenance and daily regimen that he currently utilizes. There are numerous locations across the United States, including at Boise Town Square next to the Apple Store, but it was this one that started cultivating his grooming regiment.
“I went to see a barber down there, an old school barber in downtown Charleston, and he was telling me things like how to keep it healthy, how long to do without trimming it, different shampoos and oils.”
So, what does that involve?
“They say you shouldn’t wash your hair every day. It’s kind of the same rules apply to facial hair. I usually [wash] it every three days. I think I could probably do it less if I wasn’t sweating so much and didn’t play a sport for a living.
“I’d say every three days, and on the days I wash it I use oil. On the days that I don’t, I use just a balm. It’s kind of like a lotion. I’m known for having dry skin, so I find a product that has tea tree in it so it helps the skin as well underneath it so it doesn’t get flaky as well. On the days that I shower, it’s oil to help replenish it.”
There was a time where Saucerman had to skewer the beard for professional purposes. Heading into Toronto Maple Leafs camp, a team policy of no facial fair forced the beard to take a back seat for a few weeks to come off. After camp, it was back to the beard. After three to four months of just letting it grow, the trimming began to tame the beast and reign in its shape. From there, it’s an additional three to four months to get the length to where it is today.
Every so often, the thought of changing its look has been tossed around. In the same way that hairstyles change, beard styles can also shift to something new or different, but the look has worked both outwardly and personally.
“I’ve definitely thought about trimming it back and maybe keeping it a little tighter. I just like it at this length. It’s not a lot of maintenance, so it’s not like it’s a pain or something. I think it’s more that I like having it. I feel like it’d be a shame if I cut it just because of how thick it is.”
Although Saucerman’s beard is the most jarring and recognizable, it isn’t the only piece of facial hair across the Steelheads roster. In fact, the facial hair trend began before he even joined the team in mid-November.
In Toledo, the first mustaches and grizzled looks started popping up. A.J. White, Elgin Pearce, Connor Chatham and Jeff King, to name a few, were some of the earliest mustaches and mixed beards to gain prominence. At the first practice of the first day of November, they were out to view.
It’s almost customary for the hockey community to grow the “muzzies” during the month. In fact, a lot of men across the country do so in what’s become just a popular trend. However, the foundations of the Steelheads’ facial fuzz, and that of a lot of men have a different origin.
“It’s something we talked about doing last year but never pulled the trigger on it,” said Alex Dahl. “This year, we had the facial hair to do it, and it was fun as a team to shave our beards into mustaches or get guys to finally start growing facial hair. We knew we were raising awareness for a good cause and being able to spread the word to get our friends, family and some of the fans to donate to the Movember Foundation.”
Alex Dahl has been the point person for rallying the facial hair on the Steelheads roster and the driving force to begin a Movember campaign this season.
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, over 9,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with testicular cancer, and the rate of diagnosis has increased in the last 40 years. For prostate cancer, the most common cancer among men, over 160,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed, and for those diagnosed that see it spread to other parts of the body, the survival rate over five years is 30 percent.
The reasons resonate for each player to contribute to the facial campaign, but the roots come down to the prevalence of cancer, especially prostate and testicular cancer, that continue to motivate players like Dahl and the Steelheads to keep raising awareness.
For Dahl personally, he’s had a few teammates with family members that have battled forms of cancer.
“I think we could all think back and realize we’ve played with someone or had a family member somehow involved with prostate cancer or testicular cancer and realize how prominent it is amongst men. It’s something we’re all way more aware of.”
It doesn’t take very much to maintain or let grow considering most Movember participants only keep it around for about one month, starting with a simple trim or shave of the undesirable facial areas and follow-up shaves and trims every couple days, depending on the thickness of such facial hair.
Some like Dahl and White keep the rugged look on the bottom, trimmed close to the face but leave the mustache longer to stand out. Others choose to leave the mustache by itself in a flash back to its popularity in the 1980s or just let the whole beard grow evenly.
They’re not like that of Saucerman’s beard, but it’s enough to cause some heads to turn, especially for those that know the players.
“I think guys who grow out their facial hair get much more attention because they don’t usually have it,” said Saucerman.
“Now that Saucerman came in, we’re all looking more to grow our beards out for the winter,” Dahl chuckled. “Guys have had fun with it so far, and hopefully we can do something fun later in the year, too.”
December is swiftly approaching, and the razors will be coming off the dusty shelf soon. For some like Saucerman, the beard will remain. For others like Dahl, it may come off by the end of this coming weekend once the calendar turns to December. For all, each player has his own reason for growing the hair, and each has a different daily and weekly maintenance.
Often times, it’s more than just about a look, but the art of the beard always has a story to tell if you’re willing to ask.