All business up front, party in the back. Perhaps no hairstyle in history has been as celebrated and as mocked as the humble mullet. Musicians like Billy Ray Cyrus and actors like David Faustino (Bud Bundy) have certainly done their part in raising mullet awareness. However, in no other facet of life is the mullet more prevalent than in the world of athletics. Legends like relief pitcher Dennis Eckersley, tennis ace Andre Agassi, and NFL linebacker Brian Bosworth (okay, maybe not so legendary) have all rocked the hairstyle in their time. However, if one sport can truly claim ownership of the mullet, it has to be hockey. In the 80s, short hair was the exception, not the rule, and most players had a magnificent mane flowing out from under the back of their helmets. The style became so popular the term “Hockey Hair” (pretty much interchangeable with “mullet”) was coined.
With so many players in the 80s and early 90s sporting this legendary hairdo, coming up with a list of the top 10 best hockey mullets was indeed a challenge. I think I’ve come up with the best of the era, but in the event I’ve overlooked some obvious candidate please feel free to point out my omission(s) in comments. Enjoy this trip down memory lane. I know I did.
10 – Wayne Gretzky
Not only is he the greatest hockey player of all time, but the man known as The Great One had a great mullet also back in the days of the high-flying Oilers. Though known as perhaps the smartest player to ever play the game, Gretzky proved he was just as dumb as many of his more cement-handed fellow NHLers when it came to personal grooming and style. Some of Gretz’s teammates like Marty McSorley tried to copy his hairdo, perhaps hoping his secret lay in his flowing locks. I wonder if that spectacular mane helped him land Janet Jones?
9 – Ron Duguay
There might be something to my theory that the mullet was instrumental in helping hockey players hook up with hot women. Wayne got Janet Jones, but Ron Duguay trumped him, meeting and eventually marrying supermodel Kim Alexis. I firmly believe that had helmets been mandatory back in his playing days Ron Duguay would have hung up his hockey stick, and pursued a different career path that would let him flaunt his God-given gift. Thankfully for the fans, such a rule was not in place, so we were treated to Duguay in his full resplendence. Really, who needs a helmet when you have all that hair to protect you?
8 – Brian Engblom
This former Montreal Canadien and Washington Capital star defenseman is a rare specimen indeed. He actually rocked a better mullet as an analyst than he ever did as a hockey player. I mean, just look at that thing. That is a work of art! Best of all is the fact that he refused to let the mullet die, wearing it proudly long after the 80s had come and gone. Whether his stand was bravery, stubbornness, or just pure naivety is up to you to decide, but I for one applaud him. I just never get tired of looking at that picture.
7 – Wendel Clark
Pound for pound I don’t believe there was a tougher man to ever play the game than Wendel Clark. Well, to be fair, you’d have to be tough to get away with a hairdo like that. Hard to believe that is a draft day picture. He must have hit puberty when he was seven years old! Wendel gets bonus points for rocking the rare, but impressive mullet mustache combo. Whatever you do, don’t get in the way of him and his Chunky!
6 – Michal Handzus
I don’t know if this falls under the traditional definition of the mullet, as it is longer up front than your typical example of the hairdo. Still, even if the “business up front” has a pretty lax dress code the massive “party going on in the back” more than makes up for it. Handzus also gets some bonus points as one of the brave souls sporting a 2000s era mullet. Must have a great respect for the history of hockey I guess.
5 – Mike Ricci
The man that topped our previous list of the Top 10 Ugly Hockey Players definitely had some help from his hair in nabbing that dubious title. It may seem like I am unfairly picking on Ricci here, but to be honest he is one of my favorite hockey players of all time, and I respect him immensely for the gritty effort he put forth on the ice each and every night. However, this list is supposed to be completely objective, and regardless of the admiration I have for him as a hockey player it would be a glaringly obvious oversight if I were to leave him off this list.
4 – Ryan Smyth
This inclusion was a no-brainer for the list of the top 10 best hockey mullets of all time. No other hockey player has worn a mullet with as much pride as the (sadly former) Captain Canada. During his playing days as an Edmonton Oiler Ryan Smyth was an enormous fan favorite. Some might claim this was because of his clutch play, his fearlessness, his skill and his unearthly determination. Sure, all that played a role, but the main reason has to be his obstinate refusal to cut his hair in the face of ridicule. Way to wear that mullet with pride, Ryan!
3 – Al Iafrate
One of the biggest characters in the sport of hockey in his day, Al Iafrate refused to let male pattern baldness dictate his hair style of choice. Undaunted when the bulk of the hair fell out of the top of his head, Iafrate kept the party going in the back, helping forge a new brand of mullet – the skullet. What really put the cherry on top of that legendary hairdo was the little island of hair he left at the front – like a little Charlie Brown squiggle. Yes, he may have had one of the hardest slapshots of all time, but his greatest achievement inarguably has to be the cultivation of that magnificent do.
2 – Barry Melrose
As good as the other entrants on the list are this battle of the mullets was really a two horse race all the way along. Though Melrose did have a brief NHL career as a player, playing 300 games in the show with the Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings he really became a rock star back in the 90s as the bench boss of the Wayne Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings. His hairdo from that era is as pure a definition of a mullet as you will ever find. When his coaching days he moved to the broadcast booth, and he certainly gives fellow former player turned broadcaster Brian Engblom a run for his money for best hockey analyst mullet.
1 – Jaromir Jagr
Sorry Barry but even you can’t compete with that. That is more than a mullet. Using the French pronunciation (Moo-lay) might get you closer to the true magnificence of Jagr’s hair. Pillowy soft the top seems to defy gravity, and no doubt there was never a shortage of women lining up to run their hands through that dark waterfall cascading down his back. Yes, it might not adhere to the classic definition like Melrose’s, but its greatness can’t be denied and makes Jagr an easy choice for the title of best hockey mullet of all time.