NHLPA and Heart & Stroke Foundation Team Up Again for Beard-a-thon

NHLPA Divisional Rep, Rob Zamuner on hand in Ottawa for the local launch of the 2012 NHLPA Beard-a-thon in support of the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

NHLPA and Heart & Stroke Foundation Team Up Again for Beard-a-thon


Growing hair to show you care: NHLPA and Heart and Stroke Foundation team up for second consecutive year on NHLPA Beard-a-thon to raise funds to combat heart disease and stroke

OTTAWA– (APRIL 17, 2012)
Playoff time is here and things are going to get hairy! The NHLPA Beard-a-thon was launched locally today in Ottawa to kick-off an initiative that will see NHL players and fans growing playoff beards to raise funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

“Growing a beard in solidarity with your favourite player can now help save a life,” says David Sculthorpe, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation.  “Whether you don a beard every playoff season or you’ve never done it before – you’ve got a lot to grow for.”

Heart disease and stroke take one in three Canadians before their time and is the leading cause of death in women.

“The NHLPA, together with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, encourages hockey fans to join the players in growing their best playoff beards again this year for the NHLPA Beard-a-thon, as we raise money for heart disease and stroke research,” says Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director and former NHL player.

Rob Zamuner, a native of Oakville, ON and an accomplished former NHL player, played in 798 NHL games while scoring 311 career points. Zamuner was drafted by the New York Rangers in 1989 where he would begin his NHL career.

Following his time with the Rangers, he played seven seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he would eventually become the team’s captain in 1998. During his time with the Lightning, he earned a spot on the prestigious Canadian Olympic men’s hockey team for the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, playing alongside the star players in the game. Zamuner also won a gold medal while playing for Canada at the 1997 World Championships.  Following his tenure with Tampa Bay, he went on to play for the hometown Ottawa Senators for two seasons (1999-00 & 2000-01), before playing the final three seasons of his NHL career with the Boston Bruins. Rob currently serves as a Divisional Representative for the NHLPA.

“By signing up for the NHLPA Beard-a-thon, you can raise important funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation while growing a playoff beard,” says Zamuner.

Matt Carkner, NHLPA member and Ottawa Senators defenceman, has already started growing his own playoff beard. “I’m excited to see some of the other great playoff beards on my teammates and our fans this year. With the NHLPA Beard-a-thon, our fans can also pledge each other or their favourite players to show their support as we raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation,” says Carkner.

Participating NHL players include: Andrew Alberts, Keith Ballard, Alex Burrows, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Dan Hamhuis, Chris Higgins, Zack Kassian, Ryan Kesler, Maxim Lapierre, Manny Malhotra, Mason Raymond, Cory Schneider, Chris Tanev, and Dale Weise (Vancouver Canucks); Adrian Aucoin and Paul Bissonnette (Phoenix Coyotes); Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins); Matt Carkner and Chris Phillips (Ottawa Senators); Pascal Dupuis (Pittsburgh Penguins); Brian Elliott (St. Louis Blues); Scott Hartnell and Max Talbot (Philadelphia Flyers); Brooks Laich (Washington Capitals); Jamal Mayers (Chicago Blackhawks); Brandon Prust (New York Rangers); and Kyle Quincey (Detroit Red Wings).

One hockey player and fan who puts his heart into the cause is heart attack survivor, Michael Bibby.

“My family, like countless others, is very grateful for the advances that research has made thanks to the Heart and Stroke Foundation,"" says Bibby, a fundraiser for the Foundation who dealt with heart disease and stroke with both of his parents. At the age of 34 Bibby experienced an unusual heart attack – myopericarditis – himself. ""Not only has my life been impacted, but also that of my son, who had open heart surgery at the age of four.""

The NHLPA and the Heart and Stroke Foundation are looking to top last year’s totals in both dollars raised and the number of participating beard growers. The beard growers in the 2011 NHLPA Beard-a-thon raised nearly $200,000.

There is exclusive prizing for participants this year as both funds and facial hair grow:

  • Raise a minimum of $25 dollars to be automatically entered to win a signed jersey
  • Raise more than $500 and take home an NHLPA sweatshirt and hat
  • Raise $1,000 and be entered to win the Grand Prize trip – flight for two, two nights hotel stay, two tickets to watch one of the winner’s favourite NHLPA members play next season, and much more
  • Raise the most dollars among all participants and receive the NHLPA Goals & Dreams Grand Prize – the opportunity to donate hockey equipment (20 complete sets valued at over $10,000) to underprivileged youth in their community, through NHLPA Goals & Dreams

Fans can sign up at beardathon.ca. Supporters can then go online to pledge support for their favourite beard-growing players and fans.

The 2012 NHLPA Beard-a-thon was launched locally at Bell Sensplex in the Mattamy Homes Arena. Attendees included NHLPA Alumni, Rob Zamuner; Laurèl Craib, Senior Manager, Government Relations and Advocacy, Heart and Stroke Foundation; NHLPA Representative, Devin Smith; and Ottawa Senators’ mascot, Spartacat. Musical performances by Ottawa a capella quartet, Sound Evolution.

The tradition of growing beards during the playoffs is longstanding among hockey players – and is now practiced by players in nearly all North American hockey leagues, from major junior to minor league affiliates to NHL players. It is supported by many fans as well. It's not merely superstitious – it’s a symbol that they share the passion and the spirit of the playoffs.

Last year, the dollars raised during the 2011 NHLPA Beard-a-thon enabled the Foundation’s purchase and placement of 29 life-saving AEDs for local hockey arenas and communities across Canada.

Knowing the score about heart disease and stroke

  • Heart disease and stroke take 1 in 3 before their time – that’s more than 69,000 Canadian lives lost every year.
  • Heart disease and stroke is the number one killer of women.
  • More than 1.3 million people are living with some form of heart disease – and over 315,000 people are coping with the effects of stroke.
  • Nine in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke.
  • One in 10 heart attack victims die within 30 days and one in five die within one year.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of hospitalizations in Canada, with almost 3 million hospitalizations a year.
  • Canadian children are the first generation poised for shorter lives than their parents.
  • Heart disease and stroke cost our healthcare system $20.9 billion every year.
  • The good news is that 80 per cent of early onset heart disease and stroke is preventable. Fundraising for research and public awareness is one way we can make a real difference!

B-roll of NHL players talking about the NHLPA Beard-a-thon is available to the media at the following links:

2012 NHLPA Beard-at-thon PSA, including Brian Elliott (St. Louis Blues), Shea Weber (Nashville Predators), and Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers) (0:42)

Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia Flyers) on the NHLPA Beard-a-thon (0:25)


Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia Flyers) challenges Canadians to join the NHLPA in growing beards to raise funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. (0:20)


The Heart and Stroke Foundation (heartandstroke.ca), a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

The National Hockey League Players' Association (nhlpa.com), established in 1967, is a labour organization whose members are the players in the NHL. The NHLPA works on behalf of the players in varied disciplines such as labour relations, product licensing, marketing, international hockey and community relations. Since 1999, NHLPA Goals & Dreams has donated more than $20-million to grassroots hockey, with more than 60,000 deserving children in 25 countries having benefited from the players' donations of hockey equipment. 

To help raise funds for the Heart and stroke Foundation by participating in the NHLPA Beard-a-thon during the 2012 playoffs, visit www.beardathon.ca.