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  • When Should You Throw Your Hat for a Hat Trick?

    Image courtesy of Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
    Mikki Tuohy

    During the Minnesota Wild’s President's Day matinee against the Vancouver Canucks, the Wild not only scored two hat tricks (Joel Eriksson Ek and Kirill Kaprizov) but J.T. Miller also had a hat trick. Both Wild hat tricks were completed during the same period, leading to an interesting case study. 

    There were hats left over in the stands after Eriksson Ek's hat trick, and we know this because hats hit the ice once Kaprizov scored his own hat trick. What happened? Did the people throwing a hat for Kaprizov not find Eriksson Ek worthy enough? Did they have more than one hat? Did they go buy another hat? So many questions, so many options.

    I got an inside look at this situation, as I was at the game with my brother. Before the game even started, he bought two Wild baseball caps to join forces with his old hat. He threw his original hat for Eriksson Ek, then a new one for Kaprizov. Following that, he re-bought the one he lost after the game. Huge props to him, because when Kaprizov scored that empty net goal to clinch the hat trick, there was no hesitation to throw that brand-new hat onto the ice.

    Scoring a hat trick in the NHL is quite the achievement. Three goals in one game? Not just anyone can do that. (Although every once in a while, a player will surprise you. Remember Connor Dewar’s hat trick earlier in the season?) When a player scores a hat trick, the time-honored tradition is to throw your hat onto the ice. But hats for your favorite hockey team can be expensive! So, here are a few questions to answer while you make that decision.

    (Note: Maybe have most of these answers in mind before the game. It needs to be a split-second decision.)

    Where are you?

    • If you’re at the rink? Throw it.
    • If you’re at home? Throw it.
    • If you’re in a public setting? Make sure you won’t get kicked out if you throw it. Then, make your decision based on that. I won’t tell you how to act during a hat trick. Just know that your actions have consequences...

    Who is the player?

    Obviously, most people will only throw a hat for a player on their team. There was one lone fan who threw a hat for Miller during the Wild-Canucks game. Good for them. If you like both teams, you'll need to rank which players are deserving. 

    For example, if somehow you are a fan of both the Wild and the Dallas Stars, there is at least one player that comes to mind who doesn’t deserve a hat thrown at the Xcel Energy Center. There’s not much more to say about that.

    Now, this doesn’t mean that one player is necessarily more deserving than another. For example, Eriksson Ek’s hat trick deserved fans to surrender their hats just as much as Kaprizov’s. The only thing that would elevate one player over another would be if it is a player’s first hat trick in the NHL, or if a player is making their debut with their club and scores a hat trick.

    How much do you like your hat?

    When it comes to the state of your hat, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions:

    • Do you actually like the hat?
    • Will you be sad if you never get it back?
    • How new is it?
    • Does it have some sort of emotional tie that will be forever altered or broken?

    Policies for what happens to your hat vary from arena to arena. At the Xcel Center, they do put out a table of hats that were thrown for hat tricks. The upside is that we found my brother’s old hat there. The downside is that some bad actors will steal a hat if it looks new. They had to have an employee standing there trying to make sure people weren’t stealing hats that weren’t theirs, but it isn’t like people can prove that they own the hat.

    Isn’t there another way?!?

    I’ve heard rumors of people who will buy random, cheap hats that they can throw at the game. That way, they can wear a hat they enjoy and support the team while also celebrating because there’s nothing like throwing a hat onto the ice.

    What else do I need to know about throwing a hat?

    The biggest thing a hockey fan needs to know is that if a hat from higher in the stands lands near you, you are obligated to funnel it further towards the ice. It’s almost physically impossible to toss a ball cap or stocking cap down onto the ice from the upper decks. Same with sitting somewhere behind the netting. So if you throw a hat in the direction of the ice, someone else is morally obligated to pass it along.

    Overall, a hat trick is one of those things that make a hockey game just a little bit more special. You will always remember a game you attend if there are one or two (or three?!) hat tricks. So let that have a little weight when you decide whether to throw your hat or not. Lifelong memory or a baseball hat?

    Think you could write a story like this? Hockey Wilderness wants you to develop your voice, find an audience, and we'll pay you to do it. Just fill out this form.

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