DETROIT (AP) -They come in all shapes and sizes - and shades.
Detroit Red Wings forward Kris Draper's playoff beard is bushy and red and makes him look not unlike action star Chuck Norris in his ``Walker, Texas Ranger'' days.
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney's look evokes memories of Grizzly Adams.
As for Red Wings forward Johan Franzen, well, he's just plain scary.
At least that's what his 8-year-old nephew says.
``My sister's son didn't recognize me. I came up to him yesterday. He got scared. He wondered, 'What's coming at me? Get him away from me,''' said the man teammates call Mule, a fitting nickname considering his cherry beard is as thick as one.
Most players in this year's Stanley Cup final are continuing the superstitious tradition of foregoing the razor in the name of hockey immortality.
And this year's playoff beards come in many varieties.
The player everyone's watching on the ice doesn't have much to show for his beard-growing efforts, but 20-year-old Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is at least trying, managing a few patches of black on his baby face.
His counterpart with the ``C'' on his sweater, Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom also features something short of a true beard - some stubble on his chin and barely any hair on his cheeks.
Some even have dared to (gasp!) shave during the playoffs.
Detroit's Chris Chelios, who has played in an NHL-record 260 playoff games dating to 1984 with the Montreal Canadiens, stands out for the clean look on his cheeks and chin.
Chelios said he never has grown a beard in the playoffs.
``It wasn't a tradition in Montreal when I started, and I never liked beards and mustaches,'' Chelios said. ``I always play clean-shaven because Guy Lafleur always shaved right before games, so I copied him. It helps you be the first one to get out of the shower after the game.''
The 1980s New York Islanders generally are credited with giving the playoff beard its start, winning four consecutive Cups sans razor.
The trend since has spilled into other sports.
Another Pittsburgh athlete going for a championship in Motown refused to shave two years ago.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger channeled his inner mountain man en route to the franchise's first Super Bowl in a generation.
He even had his light-brown scruff shaved off in front of the nation in a post-Super Bowl appearance on David Letterman's ``Late Show,'' returning him to hairless normalcy.
Detroit blue-liner Andreas Lilja is one of the few NHLers to sport a regular-season beard. But come playoff time, he opts not to trim it.
Lilja, whose dark beard seems a couple inches thick, said his daughter is not a big fan of the look.
``My 5-year-old ... wants me to shave,'' he said. ``I keep a beard all season, but never this thick. She keeps asking, 'When are you going to shave it?' And I say, 'When the season is over.' So she says, 'When is that going to be?'''
It could be as early as Monday night. That's when the teams meet at Joe Louis Arena with the home team holding a 3-1 series lead.
Should the Red Wings end up winning their fourth Cup in 11 seasons, Draper will be content in knowing he did his hair-raising colleagues one better: He actually used his playoff beard to score a goal.
It was Draper who netted the opening tally of Detroit's Western Conference finals series clincher at Dallas on May 19 by redirecting the puck into the net - off his chin.
The resulting gash required stitches, but Draper refused to allow his face to be fully shaved, agreeing only to a slight trim so as not to disturb his playoff beard.

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