It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?
Hockey rinks across North America pick one night a year that allows a toy to become a projectile. The stuffed animal, a staple of childhood and a talisman of innocence … gets the chance to fly.
After the home team scores the first goal on the designated “Teddy Bear Toss” night, fans launch their stuffed animals into the air and to the ice, one of thousands that will be headed to a better place.
Now there’s no magic that comes into this happening. Instead, it’s a byproduct of a smart marketing department, fans willing to part with their good toys and a collective desire to give to charity – children in need, children in the hospital during the holidays instead of being at home, children without families …
The Teddy Bear Toss isn’t just about the teddies – some of the kids and their families have heartbreaking, yet inspiring stories.
And, frankly, it’s one of the best traditions in hockey.
The teddy bear toss is popular in Canadian junior hockey as a promotional and charity event, though you probably don’t see the tradition in the NHL for a few reasons including: one, liability issues and two, it takes more time to clean up the toys that are thrown onto the ice than it does to throw them.
But the phenomenon of thousands of flying teddy bears certainly creates a spectacle – and a YouTube sensation.
Last year in Calgary, during a Western Hockey League game, more than 23,000 stuffed animals were tossed to the ice in a span of less than four minutes (per the Calgary Herald). It took nearly 40 minutes – delaying the game – to collect all of the toys and to do ice maintenance. At one point during the toss, benches were cleared and players went to their respective dressing rooms. What else was there to do besides wait?
This year, the fans in Calgary outdid themselves, throwing more than 25,000 stuffed animals to the ice. That’s 25,000 good homes, you know? (via Puck Daddy)
Saturday in Hershey, the Bears fans made it rain. Jason Chaimovich, vice president of communications for the American Hockey League, sent this video across via his Twitter account. (@jchaimo)
And this one in Kamloops, B.C., from HockeyProspect.tv, via Jerome Berube, a producer for the site. (@Jerome_Berube) There aren’t a lot of bears as compared to Calgary, but the WHL play-by-play guy dresses it up with the call.
Now, with this time of the year, the updates of hockey arenas having teddy bear tosses are coming across Twitter … and there are no accompanying visuals. It’s like ordering a bloody mary … and getting a sad concoction of tomato juice, Red Hot sauce and cheap vodka. No kick, no power, no oomph.
Scribes, fans, PR peeps, I implore you – post the hell out of the teddy bear toss. Videos, photos, testimonials, befuddled teddy bears. And if you can, give it this hashtag: #teddybeartoss
Besides, what kid doesn’t love a teddy bear? Or 25,000 of them?