Permanent Lettuce: A Pageant of Hockey Hair

Making the state tournament is a big deal for boys who play high school hockey in Minnesota, where the best of the best face off — with championships on the line — at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

And while the tournament is a four-day smorgasbord of slap shots, glove saves and power plays, it has evolved into a full-blown spectacle — as the global hub for “hockey hair.”

“As soon as our players make the state tournament, it’s like, ‘Guys, come on, we’ve got to play hockey now,’” Ryan Neuman, the coach at New Ulm High School, said in an interview. “And they’re busy making hair appointments to get perms.”

Hockey hair has ranked among the sport’s more curious traditions for decades, stretching back to the days when N.H.L. greats like Guy Lafleur, Marty McSorley and Al Iafrate (for whom being bald up top was no great deterrent) took the ice with epic mullets.

With its tight sides and elongated caboose, the mullet is conducive to the hockey-specific concept of “flow,” a heightened state of being that is achieved whenever a player’s long hair pours out from under his helmet and billows behind him as he zips up and down the ice.

Steeped in the tradition of hockey hair, players in the state tournament often book salon appointments to make sure they look their best.Credit…Luke Schmidt, Bauer Hockey and MSHSL
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