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Go With the Flow

Sunday, 09.18.2011 / 4:01 PM ET
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New York Islanders - Training Camp 2011

It can’t be too hard to spot a hockey player in a crowd. The tall, lean muscular build is a telling sign. Flip-flops, shorts, t-shirt and a hat are standard attire, but the most telling sign that you’re looking at a professional hockey player is long, glorious, wavy hair.

Hockey hair, or “flow” has been a part of the sport for generations. Guy LaFleur’s hair used to fly back as he charged down the ice in the 70’s, and Jaromir Jagr’s mullet in the 90’s are just two in hockey’s storied history. Today’s New York Islanders are continuing the trend with several players wearing the look.

Moulson's flow towards the end of the 2010-11season.
What could be cooler than having long locks poking out of the helmet? Well according to Matt Martin, Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau, the answer isn’t short hair.

“The first time I ever grew it out was because I wanted it coming out the sides and back of my helmet,” Moulson said. “I thought that was cool when I was younger.”

It’s not just all about the looks. It’s believed that good flow can lead to good play. Some players credit their mop for their good fortune.

“I’ve had the flow for probably six or seven years now,” Parenteau said, who has been above a point per game in the AHL for four years and scored 20 goals for the Islanders last year. “So I don’t know, things have been going well for me hockey wise, so it’s kind of related.”

The same can be said about the opposite effect. If slumping, cutting the flow can kick-start success, giving a player a fresh start.

No one wakes up one morning with long hair. It takes years to develop the length and style of ones’ flow. This process is usually inspired and these players are no different.

Moulson, who grew up in North York, Ont. was a fan of Toronto Maple Leaf captain Doug Gilmore’s hair and San Jose Sharks captain Mike Ricci’s. Martin cited less traditional hockey sources.

“Brad Pitt’s hair in Troy was pretty sweet,” Martin said. Martin, who is also a blonde, cited David Beckham’s hair as inspiration growing up.

Long hair can be hard to take care of, especially hair that’s constantly in a helmet, and enduring on-ice drills. Learning what conditioners and products to buy and what hats to where, comes with experience and a little help.

“Me and PA, we talk about new products out there and what we use. Technique, what we do,” Moulson said.

Parenteau's headshot taken at the start of the 2010-11 season. He's modeling an even longer flow these days.
It’s a small brotherhood on the team, but they compete to lay claim to best flow.

Matt Martin’s trying out-do us, I think he’s being a little silly,” Moulson jokes.

Matt Martin, he thinks he looks like Brad Pitt,” adds Parenteau.

But as much as athletes love their flow, eventually they will have to part with it. Even defensive end Jarred Allen cut his trademark mullet, which he claimed he wouldn’t, for his wedding day. What would it take for these guys to cut their flow?

Martin plans on cutting and donating it for Locks for Love, a charity that takes hair and turns it into hairpieces for sick children. Parenteau said he would cut it for a Stanley Cup, but who wouldn’t.

The start of the season usually signals the ‘no more cuts’ date and the beginning of a new season’s flow.  It’s a long season, and there won’t be a limit on how long the hair could get, unless the boss says so. It’ll be a grind, but the best thing to do, just go with the flow.

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