In the NHL, the home team can get a delay of game penalty if fans toss things on the ice. It started in the 1996 playoffs when fans in Florida started tossing toy rats on the ice after each goal. The legend goes that Scott Mellanby found a rat in the locker room, and killed it with a slap shot. So fans honoured the good luck rat with their own ritual after each goal.
Thankfully junior hockey isn’t as uptight and lets fans go crazy for a good cause.Many teams in the Canadian Hockey League have a Teddy Bear Toss game in early December. The idea is to collect thousands of bears to be distributed to kids in need. They could be something to hold on to for kids in the hospital, or a friend to cuddle at an emergency site (car crash, house fire). It’s a great event that packs the house each year.
We packed up the boys for the Calgary Hitmen’s 2012 Teddy Bear Toss experience and it didn’t disappoint.
The anticipation in the arena is like an overtime game. Every close call is met with a huge OOOOOHHH!! from the crowd. I was surprised there wasn’t an itchy trigger finger in the house as the Hitmen swarmed Kootenay wanting to get the goal early. Eventually it came when Padakin scored at 13:27 of the first period and 25 000 teddy bears were tossed from the rafters:
It took nearly 45 minutes to scoop the Teddy Bear Toss bears up. They are loaded into HUGE plastic bags, and then tossed in the back of pickup trucks driven onto the ice.
The home team has a lot of fun posing for pictures in the animals and helping fill the bags, while the visitors head to the dressing room to wait out the long delay.
With the nets now up in the end zones of modern arenas, the tossing of the teddy bears goes on and on and on as they first make their way to the lower level where they are then thrown to the sides before hitting the ice. If you have one of those great seats along the glass between the blue lines, you’d better bring your throwing arm to this game.
Here’s the edit with just the teddy bears flying down:
Image via Buzz Bishop. No use without permission.