In what’s described by some as the best promotion in hockey, the Teddy Bear Toss season is upon us. Puck Daddy had a great article of five Teddy Bear Tosses that took place over the weekend, ranging from junior teams in Canada to minor leagues in Texas, and plenty of places in between. This got me thinking (I’ve got to come up with a better lead in…), why hasn’t there been a NHL team doing one?
The Teddy Bear Toss is great fun. If you aren’t quite familiar, allow me to introduce you. The promotion is said to have started with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL, although I understand some say the Calgary Hitmen (WHL) are said to have started it too. Fans are encouraged to bring teddy bears and other stuffed animals to the game to donate to charity. Simple enough to just collect them in bins at the gate as fans walk in right? WRONG! Fans are told that their donation comes in the form of throwing the stuffed animals on the ice after the home team scores it’s first goal. They are then collected and distributed to charities and local hospitals. Some times the players even show up at the hospitals to distribute them.
I got to participate in one of these with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL. We brought a bag of about twenty and threw them on the ice, as well as at a few other spectators who then threw them on the ice. I nailed one guy in the head with a stuffed elephant, it was awesome! Stopping giving me dirty looks through your computer, it was for a good cause!
So the question becomes would/should the NHL do one? The Calgary Hitmen seem to do it best, and their games are played in a NHL arena. If a junior team can bring in 26k teddy bears can you imagine what NHL fans would do? Particularly if they made it a competition? Have every NHL team do one during the month of December, the team to bring in the most wins bragging rights for a year.
This is to say nothing of how the NHL loves to have hockey world records. The current world record for most spectators at a hockey game was set by the NCAA in an outdoor game in Ann Arbor between the University of Michigan and Michigan State in 2010. It’s no surprise that when the NHL decided to the Winter Classic in Michigan, they’ll be using the same venue this game was set at, no doubt trying to set a new record (and maximize attendance revenues too I’m sure.)
I had a few misgivings about such a possibility. Particularly logistical issues. If every fan at the Joe brought a teddy bear and threw it, 20,066 teddy bears is a lot. Collecting, storing, and distributing them would be a challenge. Or at least I thought so until I saw the Calgary Hitmen pull off 26,000 without any complaining. Like I said, if a junior team can pull it off, a NHL team shouldn’t have much trouble. I also worry that in distributing such stuffed animals to sick children locally, one may run out of children before running out of stuffed animals (and an avalanche of stuffed animals is no way to help sick children). But in a world where Toys For Tots exists, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect most logistical issues being taken care of by a couple phone calls. Lastly, I imagine the delay of game that occurs from cleaning up all the toys gets annoying, especially since it seems to happen on multiple goals through out the night with stragglers and what not. But if the Florida Panthers can get by with those plastic rats I’m sure the NHL could endure it for one night for a charitable cause.
Personally, I like the idea of an underground, unofficial Teddy Bear Toss. Mobs of organized fans descending upon an arena with the intent of lobbing stuffed animals on the ice after the first goal. Would a NHL team risk the negative publicity of saying ‘No’ to fans demanding their own stuffed animal throwing frenzy and subsequent charitable donation? Alas, demanding a NHL team make a charitable donation on the fan’s behalf is kind of a jerk move. I guess I’m just a dreamer that way.
So in conclusion, I think a Teddy Bear Toss would work at a NHL arena. This could be due to my own preoccupation with throwing things on the ice. Us Red Wings fans have been known to throw stranger things.