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Stu Cowan: Canadiens make bald beautiful for a very good cause

Jordie Benn now looks like a biker.

Andrew Shaw looks like a young Navy Seal officer ready for action and Karl Alzner looks like his tough drill sergeant.

Artturi Lehkonen looks even younger.

Seven Canadiens took on a new look after practice Wednesday in Brossard and it was for a very good cause. Benn, Shaw, Alzner and Lehkonen all went bald along with teammates Jeff Petry, Charles Hudon and Ales Hemsky as part of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge, raising $33,000 in the process for children battling cancer. Victor Mete was also involved in the fund-raising, but wasn’t around to have his head shaved since he was sent Monday to Team Canada’s selection camp for the World Junior Hockey Championship.

“We’re going to get him when he comes back, though,” Shaw said.

Petry is the one who convinced his teammates to sign up for the Shaved Head Challenge by putting a price on their own heads on the event website and then raising donations from friends, family and fans to reach their goal. The head-shaving is also done to raise awareness for Leucan and its commitment to helping cancer-stricken children and their families as well as a gesture of support for youngsters battling the disease who lose their hair during chemotherapy.

This marks the third time Petry has shaved his head to help fight children’s diseases. The first two times he was with the Oilers in Edmonton, where it became a large community event, and now in his fourth season with the Canadiens Petry decided he wanted to do something in Montreal.

“This is the one thing that I’ve done before and it popped into my head to try and do it,” he said. “For all the guys who have supported it and the family, friends and fans out there that donated money, I thank all of them.”

Petry first spoke with Geneviève Paquette, the team’s executive director of community relations and the Canadiens Children’s Foundation, about his idea, and then sent a text message to his teammates to see how many would be interested in taking part.

“A few guys jumped on it right away,” Petry said. “Hudon took a little convincing … Lehky a little bit as well. But they all came on board and we were able to raise quite a bit of money. I think Hudy was the one that had the best hair going into it and took a little bit of convincing. But I’m glad he did it and I think he doesn’t look too bad.”

Said Lehkonen, who has missed the last 13 games with a lower-body injury: “Petey kind of talked me into it. … I’m happy he talked me into it.”

It’s a great cause, but the Canadiens might have timed their head-shaving a little bit better. After Thursday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens head to Ottawa for Saturday night’s outdoor NHL 100 Classic at Lansdowne Park, where the forecast is for a low of minus-18C.

“As long as I have a good tuque or do-rag or something like that I can put over my head … we’ll just try and stay warm now,” Benn said with a smile beneath the bushy beard he didn’t shave off.

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