After three games of the Stanley Cup finals with Detroit leading Pittsburgh 2-1, and some of the best hockey in years, I finally have a reason to blog about it.
It all comes down to sanitation.
In hockey, when a player scores three goals in a game, it’s called a hat trick, and after the third goal, the ice is often littered with hats from fans.
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.
So where do all of these hat-trick hats eventually end up?
1. The Players Keep the Hats.
2. The Garbage: Remember what mom used to say about wearing other kids’ hats back in elementary school? Turns out that health concerns about the indiscriminate origin of the hats is a consideration.
Mike Sundheim, media relations for the Carolina Hurricanes, said that a portion of the hats that are in decent shape are given to the players, but that "the majority of the older, well-worn ones pretty much have to go in the trash because of health concerns."
That was echoed by VP of communications Tom McMillan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, although he said a student once did a project with the Penguins in which he took hats thrown on the ice, had them "cleaned and medically approved" and then donated them to charity.