The New York Rangers 2nd annual Beard-A-Thon welcomed passionate blueshirts fans, Rangers alumni, and some of the All Barbers League’s best stylists to the corridors of Madison Square Garden on Monday. With the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff schedule officially announced Sunday night, Ranger fans and alumni alike endured the wet weather in order to get their shave on in anticipation of a lengthy Rangers run. The playoff beard is one of the greatest traditions among hockey players, and what better way for teams and fan bases to connect with each other than growing them together. Ranger great Rod Gilbert made his second annual appearance at the event to get a shave, talk hockey with fans, and even try his own hand with a trimmer. We promise no one got cut. The event fostered the Rangers commitment to not only their fans, but their charity work with the Garden of Dreams Foundation as well. We also had a chance to talk to Glenn Anderson. Chalk this one up as a win all around.
Interview by Adam Silvers (@silversurfer103)
How does an event like the Beard-A-Thon bring Ranger fans together?
Rod Gilbert: Well this is a very important day because the entire hockey world is supporting the ‘put your game face on,’ movement, the Rangers, of course, are very into it. Last year we took it pretty far by getting to the Eastern Conference Finals, this year we’re hoping this event is going to bring more luck. There’s so much energy from the fans that participate, and it benefits the Garden of Dreams, and we’re very excited about that.
How does this event help to raise awareness for the Garden of Dreams Foundation as well?
RG: We do so much work for the Garden of Dreams, it’s the Rangers main charitable foundation, and to have something of this magnitude is great. I think the players really enjoy it, for them to be aware of fans growing their playoff beards in order to support the team and the foundation, it’s important to them as well.
I think the players really enjoy it, for them to be aware of fans growing their playoff beards in order to support the team and the foundation, it’s important to them as well.
How important is it for Rangers alumni like yourself to stay involved with the team?
RG: You can’t help but be part of the family. I’ve always encouraged former players to stay close to the team, and to bring the energy to the team. We certainly hope the current players feel the support of the alumni. For us to make a contribution to what the Rangers and the players believe in, like the Garden of Dreams for instance, is very important to all of us. We support the entire project.
How far are the Rangers going this postseason?
RG: We said at the beginning of the year that we wanted to go all the way. It’s been difficult, inconsistencies have set in at times and we’ve had to tweak the roster, but now any team can advance. I pick the Rangers because we have the best goalie in the world, and in the playoffs that’s the key. Lundqvist, the king, is going to carry us for a while.
What’s the importance of the Rangers hosting an event like this for the fan base?
Glenn Anderson: It’s really important with what we’ve gone through in the past. It motivates the players, especially when things are getting tough out there, that little extra boost from the fans is fantastic. In this building your eyes have to be your ears, because it's so loud.
Was the playoff beard a big tradition when you guys played?
GA: It was huge, It brought me good luck. We made it to the Stanley Cup Finals seven times, and we won six championships. It’s been good luck for me, I’m trying to bring them luck now too, and raise some money for the Garden of Dreams.
How important is it for you and fellow alumni to stay active with the team?
GA: I think all teams should have alumni as part of their active organization, because it shows great tradition, and that’s what the Blueshirts are all about. Hard work, come to the rink every day, that’s what the old-timers have passed down to current players. It’s about giving 110 percent every time you’re out there.
What’s different about today’s game compared to when you were on the ice?
GA: It’s a faster game. Guys are bigger and stronger, and there’s less room to move around out there. Your thought process has to be a lot quicker, and goalies really cover most of the net.
What are your playoff predictions?
GA: I like our first-round matchup. You can predict all you want, but as a player you really take it one shift at a time, one game at a time, and one series. You just look at Washington and kind of break them down as far as their individual players, who’s capable of doing some damage and how do we isolate them?