With so many newcomers at the St. John’s IceCaps’ training camp this week, even IceCaps’ staffers have found the need for a cheat sheet that matches up names and jersey numbers.
But once you’ve seen defenceman Cody Lampl, there is no need for further identification assistance. Because even though we’re still almost a week and a half away from the start of the American Hockey League regular season, Lampl is in full playoff mode, at least in the visual sense.
You see, Lampl has a beard. And it’s not the “haven’t-shaved-in-two-weeks” type. It’s epic. It’s mountain-man quality, which is appropriate since Lampl is from Ketchum, Idaho, situated hard by Bald Mountain, location of the main ski area of the world-renowned Sun Valley Resort. It’s also where the world’s first chair-lifts were installed more than 75 years ago, something Lampl can tell you all about since it was the subject of his thesis as a history major.
“Every season since I was in college,” said Lampl, explaining his late-September look. “I’m from a mountain town and that’s what we did every winter. My dad’s always had a big beard.
“But it’s not just us. Pretty much every man in town who can grow a beard has one and I’ve kept up the tradition, no matter where I’ve been.”
It’s a tradition Lampl has kept going for eight years, the first four while he attended and played hockey for Colorado College, the remainder as a pro, mostly in the ECHL, with the Idaho Steelheads in his native state, the Utah Grizzlies (where the nickname had a double meaning in his case) and last season, the Toledo Walleye.
Once the 27-year-old Lampl starts growing the beard, it doesn’t get touched until the end of the hockey season.
“Yeah, it gets really long, but it’s not problematic. In fact, it makes things hurt less when you get hit in the face,” he said of its cushioning advantage.
He does acknowledge that nowadays, what with the popularity of the TV show Duck Dynasty, he’s hearing more and more snickery references to hirsute Robinsons like Jase and Si.
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“And of course there was Wilson (major league relief pitcher Brian Wilson), who came along and made it his thing, but we’ve been doing it longer,” he said.
“It’s not much of a big deal where I live. It’s the norm.”
Wherever he’s played, Lampl has been very much of a fan favourite. Nicknamed, as you mighty expect, “the Lamp” (he has a tattoo on his neck of an old fashioned street lamp, with stylized ‘”L” at the bottom), he played in 64 games with Toledo in 2012-13, with six goals, eight assists, 127 penalty minutes and team-high plus-20 rating.
At 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Lampl’s not big, but he’s solid (think fire hydrant a la Soggy Bottom Boy) and his resume, which includes 322 penalty minutes in 216 ECHL games, shows him to be the sort of gritty, hard-hitting, tough-nosedsort of player the IceCaps are looking to add to their organizational pool.
Lampl, who is on a tryout at camp, would not be the first native of Ketchum on the IceCaps should he play here. That would be forward Joey Sides, who appeared in a half-dozen games with St. John’s last season.
“He’s been one of my best friends,” said Lampl of Sides, who might be his teammate this year, since they both have contracts with Toledo.
“I’ve known him since third grade at Ernest Hemingway Elementary.”
That school was named after the famous author (and beard-wearer), who came to live in Ketchum in the late 1950s.
“It kind of puts a damper on things that he shot himself there (Hemingway committed suicide in 1961),” said Lampl. “But he always wanted to be in the most serene place he could find and we’re glad he found that to be Ketchum.”
Hemingway wasn’t the only one. From Gary Cooper to Tom Hanks, many notables have come to live full- or part-time in the town of about 3,000.
“Adam West, the original Batman, he’s there,” said Lampl. “(Hotel magnate) Steve Winn, too. I went to school with the Willis kids, Bruce and Demi’s kids. It’s nice for them because no one’s star-struck out there.
“They can come and be anonymous.”
And even hide behind a beard if they are so inclined.