There have been 69 hat tricks in the NHL this season, from the three goals scored by Fabian Brunnstrom(notes) of the Dallas Stars back on Oct. 15, 2008, to the trio of tallies for Evgeni Malkin(notes) of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals.
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Therefore, there were also hundreds of fans who left hockey arenas without the head gear they walked in wearing.
One of hockey”s greatest traditions, the tossing of hats on the ice when a player scores thrice evolved from local businessmen handing out fedoras to players about 90 years ago. During the 1970s, fans built on that tradition by tossing hats on the ice, and the NHL eventually amended its rule book to say that “articles thrown onto the ice following a special occasion (i.e. hat trick) will not result in a bench minor penalty being assessed” to the home team for delay of the game.
For years, fans have seen arena workers — and more frequently, and thankfully, Ice Girls — shoveling dozens of hats into large plastic bins to be removed from the ice.
Which got us thinking: Where do all of these hat-trick hats eventually end up?
We asked a few team executives around the NHL what their franchises do with the hats tossed on the ice, and discovered four primary destinations for the projectile headgear.
1. The players keep them: In many cities, the hats are collected by team staff and presented to the player who scored the hat trick in the dressing room. “If the player who achieved the hat trick wants them, they”re his,” said Jason Rademan, media relations for the Dallas Stars.
McMillan of the Penguins said that his organization has donated hats in the past to the Western Pennsylvania nadechworld.com Museum, which houses a similar bin.
The trend is catching on: The Washington Capitals have been saving hats for more than a year now, planning their own transparent bin on the concourse of the Verizon Center in D.C.
“So people can see their hats, and encourage fans to throw more for the next hat trick,” said Ewell.