OTTAWA, April 4 (UPI) -- With NHL playoffs days away, Canadian hockey fans are being encouraged to get hairy and grow beards to raise funds for heart and stroke research.
For the second year, the National Hockey League Players' Association is teaming with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to raise funds by participating in the players' longstanding tradition of growing beards during the playoffs.
In a release, the two groups said last year's whiskers grown by 2,037 players and fans raised nearly $200,000 for research. Additionally, it helped fund the placement of 29 defibrillators in Canadian hockey arenas, the release said.
For those who can't grow a beard, pledges can be made for numerous NHL players who have committed to the cause, all of whom are listed at the www.beardathon.ca Web site.
The NHLPA also gives prizes for fans who raise the most money from pledges, including signed hockey jerseys and tickets to games.
"Growing a beard is synonymous with playoff hockey," said NHLPA spokesman Mathieu Schneider. "We look forward to seeing some great playoff beards throughout the spring while we aim to top last year's NHLPA Beard-a-thon fundraising total."
The playoffs begin April 11.