Barry Melrose knows hair. His signature look — a slicked-back mullet — is almost as renowned as his stellar hockey record, which includes a stint as head coach of the Los Angeles Kings and a longtime run as an ESPN analyst.
The look, and credentials, made him the ideal correspondent for “Minneflowta,” a prime-time documentary that pays tribute to our state’s “All Hockey Hair Team,” a squad of high-schoolers who appear to spend as much time at the barbershop as they do on the ice.
The film, premiering Tuesday on ESPN's "E:60" program, is a lighthearted affair about the most popular sideline attraction of the state hockey tournament, but it does break some news: Melrose will unmask the team’s unofficial captain, the anonymous person who selects the squad and turns them into heroes in an annual video checked out by millions of YouTube viewers.
“Everyone thinks he’s a 65-year-old guy living in the basement of his mother’s home,” said Melrose, teasing to a big surprise.
He took time out from grooming earlier this week to share other memories from the four days he spent reporting in the Twin Cities, including a visit with Gophers and North Stars great Lou Nanne:
Q: You’ve been around hockey for a long time. Is the relationship between hockey and hair strong all over, or just in Minnesota?
A: I think the Minnesota tournament and the hockey hair team have taken things to a new limit. Hockey players have always been good looking, these virile young men with long hair, but the tournament has gone the extra mile. The hair is unbelievable.
Q: Any styles that blew you away?
A: There were tons of them that make you do a double take. There was this one awesome kid who called his hair “The Mop.” One team painted their hair gold or yellow. I’m still not sure what color it was.
Q: What was your approach to reporting the story?
A: To qualify for the “All Hockey Hair Team,” your school has to be in the actual tournament, which is very hard to do. We adopted Hermantown because they’ve been to the tournament seven times and never won. I really got to know them. The kids are great. Theoretically, not a lot of these kids are going to make a career out of playing hockey, so it was fun just meeting them and having fun with them and their hair. It’s not hard-hitting journalism, but I think people will have a blast watching it.
Q: Aside from hanging with the students, how else did you spend your time in the Twin Cities?
A: I went to a place with Lou Nanne to have cigars. I’m a big cigar guy. I can’t remember the name of the place. It was a private club that Lou belongs to, otherwise you can’t get in.
Q: There’s probably not a club in the Twin Cities that Lou isn’t a member of.
A: You’re right. He probably gets into anywhere he wants.