Baldness and Boldness: The in-depth Winter Classic fedora story you didn't ask for

DJ Bean
December 31, 2015 - 10:21 am

[caption id="attachment_55231" align="alignright" width="400"] Fedora-wearing coaches -- including (from left) Dan Bylsma, Claude Julien and Mike Babcock -- have a 2-1-1 record in the NHL's Winter Classic. (Getty Images/ graphic)[/caption] FOXBORO -- Between Tuukka Rask and Mike Condon, there will be some primo goalie masks on display on Friday, but you're a fool if you're looking on the ice when it comes to Winter Classic headgear. This is a story about fedoras and the genius coaches who wear them. With coaches unable or unwilling to wear hats in arenas (perhaps because it's impolite to wear a hat indoors), the Winter Classic gives them the option to express themselves in the classiest way possible: by wearing a nice hat. Three of the 11 head coaches to participate in the Winter Classic, now in its eighth season, have worn fedoras. Among the Frozen Federlines is Bruins coach Claude Julien, who donned a snazzy camel-colored number with a dark brown ribbon in 2010 at Fenway Park. Many coaches -- most of them, in fact -- have opted against wearing a hat. Yet there's something that five of those six guys had that the others did not: hair. Bald coaches typically wear hats at the Winter Classic. The only one of the three bald and/or balding coaches in Winter Classic history to not wear a hat was then-Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, who won his game in 2011 despite looking pretty cold. Mike Babcock, he of hair, twice has worn a fedora in the Winter Classic. He was the first to display the hat in the annual New Year's Day game, doing so in 2009. A year later, Julien did it. Dan Bylsma made it three years in a row by wearing a terrific fedora with Penguins-colored accents. "It was awesome," former Penguin and current Bruin Max Talbot said of Bylsma's fedora. "I like the old-school style for these games. It's outdoors, it's a different game, different venue, so might as well go out of the box." All in all, fedora-wearing coaches are 2-1-1 in the Winter Classic, whereas boring coaches are 5-3-1 in such games. By wearing a fedora on Friday, Julien can join elite company and make he and Babcock the only coaches to twice wear a fedora in the Winter Classic. Habs coach Michel Therrien would have such an opportunity, but he blew that by not wearing one in the first Winter Classic back in 2008 with the Penguins. Plus Therrien doesn't seem very fun. Pressed for his plans this year, Julien repeatedly said he had a surprise in the works. Upon being reminded that bald coaches more likely than not go for a hat, Julien agreed that he's better off taking the opportunity to cover his dome. So that suggests Julien definitely will be going fedora on Friday, right? Wrong. Randy Carlyle wore a baseball cap when coaching the Maple Leafs in the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. He proved to be a trailblazer for Barry Trotz, who followed suit hat by wearing one with the Capitals the next season. Julien is a creative coach. Maybe he keeps his head covered but goes a less-traditional route. The game is at Gillette Stadium, after all, and Julien has great respect for skating partner Bill Belichick. Perhaps a hoodie? Talbot insisted he doesn't know Julien's plans, smiling as he said, "This is not something we're going to discuss before the game, but we'll see." Yeah, right. It's the Winter Classic. These guys aren't talking about anything but fedoras.