Real hairy situation

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

Some are full-fledged Grizzly Adams copies. Others are so spotty no one knows it's a playoff beard.

But the one thing Calgary Stampeders players partaking in the tradition have in common is they are hockey fans and, of course, Canadian.

Unlike the hockey playoffs, which can last two months, the CFL post-season is no more than three weeks.

So it took some preparation for the Stamps to be ready for Saturday's West final against the B.C. Lions at McMahon Stadium (2:30 p.m., TSN).

"Most people say you don't have to keep it that long so it can't get that ugly," said rookie offensive lineman Jesse Newman, who has a full, thick beard. "I can see some ugliness already."

Newman, who is from Powell River, B.C., is a die-hard Vancouver Canucks fan and he started growing his beard with a month remaining in the regular season.

Defensive end Mike Labinjo, who often wears his Toronto Maple Leafs jersey to the stadium, has patches of hair here and there with only some thickness on his chin.

Even if he grew it for a year, it wouldn't get to Newman's level.

"I'm just going with the goatee thing so far," Labinjo said. "It only grows in patches. Call me the wolfman.

"I will almost have to put a fake beard on at some time. I guess this is why I'm not a hockey player."

Fellow defensive lineman Justin Phillips has a good one going, and what makes it more impressive is this is first one he's ever had.

"I can actually grow something now, so I thought I would give it a shot," said Phillips, who grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan in Ottawa. "A bunch of the Canadian boys are doing it because it's tradition.

"We're trying to get a few of the American guys to do it, but as it stands right now, they aren't buying into the system."

The imports aren't the only ones stunned by the sight of new facial hair, according to veteran safety Wes Lysack.

"(Montreal-born linebacker) Marc Calixte asked me what was with the beard," said Lysack, who grew up a Winnipeg Jets fan while living in the Manitoba capital. "I said it was for the playoffs.

"He said, 'Last time I checked, we weren't playing hockey.' I told him, 'Last time I checked, you were a Canadian.'

"Since then, he's trying to grow his in."

Lysack only started his playoff beard after the season finale against the B.C. Lions, but it's solid already.

If the Stamps actually go through to the Grey Cup and extend their season by another eight days, it may get ridiculous. Kind of like Mike Commodore for the Flames circa 2004.

"I'm unfortunately able to grow a beard," Lysack said.

"I would like not to have one. I would love to be a baby face, some of the diaper type guys like Labinjo.

"When it comes to playoff time, I have an advantage on them because mine comes in well."

Although Labinjo had designs on becoming a hockey player, Phillips didn't get to explore those Canadian dreams.

"I can't even skate," said Phillips.

"The funny thing is everyone in my family plays. My dad even played junior A. I never really got into it, just sticking with football."

Stamps head coach John Hufnagel is enjoying seeing the facial hair, although none of the coaches are getting into the spirit.

"It's a tradition," Hufnagel said.

"Hopefully, they have a chance to grow them a couple more weeks."


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