Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison on beards, superstitions and personal grooming.
Written By Derek Herscovici | Interview By Shawna Wiggs | Photography By Gabriel Burgos
Known almost as much for his big hits and booming slapshot as his thick, year-round beard, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison is sort of an expert on facial grooming. With the team primed to make its third consecutive run at the Stanley Cup, it doesn’t look like he’ll be clean shaven any time soon. TAMPA Magazine sat down with No. 5 to get to the root of all that hair.
TM: Most hockey players usually save the beard for the end of the season when the playoffs start, but not you. Why?
JG: I think shaving regularly can become a little high maintenance, so if I feel like I don’t have the time to do it, I just let it go. I usually shave at the start [of the season] when we do our team pictures and then about every month and a half knock it down to the wood, then go again.
TM: It’s traditionally bad luck to shave, trim or manicure your beard before winning the Stanley Cup – agree or disagree?
JG: I personally won’t shave, but I know some guys that do shave in the playoffs. They’ll shave regularly or after a series or a game, and they’ll just maintain what they’re doing all year long. I also know a guy who, when we were up 3-0 in a series, shaved, and we lost the next three games in a best of seven series. It’s tied 3-3, and he shaves half his face—only half his face—and we won. A lot of guys are superstitious so they probably won’t shave, but I don’t think it’s going to make you win or lose. Personally, I’m very superstitious. I won’t shave in the playoffs. I let it go.
TM: Who has the best and the worst beard on the Lightning?
JG: Unfortunately, the Czech guys have some pretty bad beards. Ondrej Palat and Andre Sustr, they need a lot of work. Usually the older guys have good beards – [Braydon] Coburn can grow some facial hair. [Ben] Bishop has a good beard. [Steven Stamkos] has got a good beard. It’s lighter and blond, but it’s pretty full.
TM: What are some beards you admire, either in or out of hockey?
JG: There are a couple guys who have grown their beards for a couple years now out in San Jose. Brent Burns and Joe Thornton, they have some nasty facial hair on that team.
TM: How do you take care of your beard in the offseason?
JG: Every offseason is a little different. This past offseason I kept my beard from the playoffs until the middle of August, then I shaved. It was very big, bigger than normal for the summer. I have been to a professional once in my life for a beard trimming – a beard cut. It didn’t really do it for me. I’m very fortunate that I don’t have to touch it; it just grows. It can get a little itchy. You have to maintain it so you don’t get anything stuck in it. Nobody wants anything on their face, but some people will tell you and some won’t.
TM: Tell us about the products you use.
JG: I use a few things that are more traditional for your face and less traditional for your beard. You always want to have a clean face, so face wash makes your beard feel a little softer, less itchy. It’s the same with shampoo. As soon as it gets really thick, I dabble in the longer hair products. The products change as the beard does. When it’s longer I’ll use regular hair shampoo and comb it, really scrub it in there. Some people comb it regularly. When I’m out of the shower and it’s a month or two in, I’ll comb it, just to give it a professional look. I’ll blow dry it because water gets captured in there, and as soon as you bend down it drips. It can get your shirt or your tie wet, so you need to get some air in there. It’s good for your face, too, I’m sure.
TM: What, in your own words, is the key to a great playoff beard?
JG: I think the best playoff beards are the ones that don’t look like they’ve been touched. You just let it go. And rock it.