Hats on the Ice

In our series Hockey Etiquette 101, last time we talked about Pucks and Shorts — what NOT to toss back onto the ice and Adjustments to Clothing and Equipment. This time, let’s talk about what TO TOSS onto the ice. HATS! And, believe it or not, Teddy Bears!

Hockey Etiquette 101: Hat Trick

The moment a player scores three goals in one game, the fans, still cheering and wide-eyed, toss their hats onto the ice! It’s a simple matter. Remove your hat and toss it, with a good flick of the wrist, to get it well over the glass. It is one of hockey’s most revered traditions, celebrating the skill and performance of one of your team’s players. New fans to the game should be aware of this longstanding and time-honored tradition. Don’t mess this up!

Hats on the ice

The history of how this tradition originated is difficult to pinpoint, however, John Beattie in his article Hockey’s Hat Trick Has Mysterious Origins, Remains Most Classic Sports Tradition (Jan 18, 2011) notes three different stories, based on the tradition of local hat manufacturers giving hats to players:

“Toronto, 1940s: Chicago Black Hawks forward Alex Kaleta was searching for a hat in Toronto in 1946 and approached local businessman, Sammy Taft. Kaleta didn’t have enough money to purchase one so Taft made a deal: If Kaleta scored three goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs that night, he would give him a free hat. Sure enough, Kaleta scored four goals against the Leafs, and Taft gave him the headgear.

Guelph, Ontario, 1950s: The Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters of the Ontario Hockey Association (the farm team of the NHL’s New York Rangers) were sponsored by Biltmore Hats — a local hat manufacturer. According to legend, the sponsor would give a brand-new fedora to any Mad Hatters player who scored three goals in a game.

Montreal, 1960s: The Henri Henri hat store in Montreal rewarded players with a free hat if they scored three goals or more in one game at the Montreal Forum.”

So, stand up, grab your hat and flick! Give it a good toss! I participated in this tradition on New Year’s Eve and it was the most wonderful experience! We celebrated Jordan Eberle’s natural hat trick, which means that he had three consecutive goals — yes, back to back to back goals! His first two were 9 seconds apart and all three were a mere 3-minute-43-second span apart. What an amazing sight!

I know you are wondering what happens to all of those hats? Greg Wyshynski explored this very question in his article Hockey mystery: What happens to hats thrown for hat tricks? at Puck Daddy. In the case of the OKC Barons, they scoop up the hats and you can request your hat to be returned to you from the Fan Relations desk. There! Now you have absolutely NO REASON AT ALL not to toss that hat on the ice!! TOSS IT! Enjoy that moment!

Teddy Bears

Hockey Etiquette 101: Teddy Bear Toss

During the holiday season there is nothing better than the tradition of a Teddy Bear Toss at a hockey game. Around early to mid December hockey teams have a Teddy Bear Toss night at one of their games — and the bears are given to a variety of charities. After the first goal of the night the teddy bears come flying down, and in some arenas they cover the ice, numbering in the high thousands and even tens of thousands!

This season’s OKC Barons’ Teddy Bear Toss on December 15th collected stuffed animals for donation to EMSA “who uses the stuffed animals to create conversation with children who have been involved in a traumatic incident.” Next season, pick up some stuffed animals, teddy bears, tigers, and pigs. Upon entering the arena you are given plastic bags to cover your the little critters for their protection as you toss them down onto the ice. Well done, hockey teams!

25,000 Bears Fly at Teddy Bear Toss – Calgary Hitmen 2012

And from ice level: