Edmonton mayor's playoff beard challenge meets with thin response

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Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson challenged other Canadian mayors to grow playoff beards in support of their NHL teams, but the response has been thin.

Iveson was on CBC's Edmonton AM Thursday to talk about last night's Edmonton Oilers loss to the San Jose Sharks.

"I think we need to grow playoff beards," he said. "I'm going to check in with the other mayors."

Players growing beards for the Stanley Cup playoffs has been a superstitious tradition since 1980, when the New York Islanders started growing beards and won four straight championships.

Beards have been a mainstay in the playoffs since, and Iveson said he hopes to see some facial hair from the other mayors — while taking a shot at Mayor Naheed Nenshi's Calgary Flames.

"I think it would be great to see Nenshi with a beard for four or five games until it's over," he said, joking.

He then tweeted out the challenge.

After no Canadian teams made the playoffs in 2016, five are in the hunt this year: the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers.

But after the tweet to Nenshi, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Toronto Mayor John Tory, Iveson's challenge was mostly rejected.

"I get enough harassment at the airport, thanks very much," Nenshi joked at a news conference in Calgary.

"I know Mayor Don Iveson will find it extremely difficult to actually be able to grow a beard, so I suggest he might ask Mayor [Gregor] Roberston in Vancouver to do it for him as he's got nothing else to do."


"I've never been able to grow a beard, so I can't take part," Watson said in an email through his office staff.

Denis Coderre did not respond to the initial tweet or CBC.

Iveson may be alone in his playoff beard challenge, so we've taken it upon ourselves to give you a glimpse of what those mayors may have looked like if they had taken the mayor up on his offer.

Edmonton's councillor Scott McKeen, a man known for his beard, couldn't make sense of the lack of commitment by mayors to grow facial hair in support of their home team.

"I don't know why that seems like a negative thing to do," he said. 

I think they would all look smarter and lord knows some of them could probably use the help. A beard is a sign of experience, wisdom, and debonairness," he added, joking.

As a sign of support for Edmonton's mayor, he wonders if other Canadian mayors are worried about Iveson's potential to grow a beard.

"I've sat next to him where he hasn't shaved and that man has a serious stubble," he said. "I think he'd win, actually. No other Canadian mayor would give him a run."