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Rewarding the Spectacular: Passing the Plate to Buy a Hat

Hat Trick

The expression "hat trick" came from a game rarely played and poorly understood in North America, as the Hockey Mom explains.

The Predateurs of Jonquiere’s second game of 2015 was a 13-2 whitewash, netting three hat tricks for three of our offensemen. I was wondering…Could those three hat tricks combine to give the entire team a hat trick of their own?

Good Things Come in Three’s

The term “hat trick” was coined back in 1858 and used to describe something exceptional that happened during a game rarely played in North America – and even more rarely understood here – cricket.  When the professional cricketeer, HH Stephenson, knocked down three wickets with three consecutive balls, a collection was made from the spectators to reward him for what he’d done. A hat was bought with the money collected and given to Stephenson as a sign of appreciation.

The hat trick was born, referring to three positive feats throughout a game. Hockey fans embrace a hat trick by throwing their hats onto the rink as a sign of appreciation and respect — but you’ve got to be playing for the home team or you may have nothing thrown (except insults, as many players, including Alexander Ovechkin, could attest to).

In hockey, there is a variety of hat tricks. There’s a regular hat trick, a natural hat trick, and a Gordie Howe hat trick – and others. Regular hat tricks are special enough, but when a natural hat trick happens, it makes you shake your head a bit and wonder if this was deja vu, an instant replay or truly a repeated feat?

Regular

A regular hat trick is when three goals are scored by one player. Wayne Gretzky holds the NHL record for hat tricks, having scored 50 in his professional career, including two record breaking 10-hat-tricks-in-a-season years, both as #99 played for the Edmonton Oilers. Gretzky’s younger contemporary and fellow Canadian, Mario Lemieux, with 40 hat tricks, holds second place, edging out Mike Bossy, another Canadian, who chalked up 39. Those records won’t be soon broken, either. In a listing of the players who have scored the most hat tricks, none of the top 15 are currently playing.

Here are some interesting hat trick stats:

Jordan Staal is now the youngest player to have a hat trick in the NHL. He scored that feat as an 18-year old – 18 years and 153 days, to be exact. That happened on February 10th, 2007, while Staal was playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins . His hat trick, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, included an overtime goal.

The oldest player to record a hat trick is Jaromir Jagr, who scored the 15th hat trick of his career a month before his 43rd birthday – at 42 years and 322 days. Although a prolific scorer – he’s currently the 5th all-time point leader – the New Jersey Devil had a substantial hat trick drought between his 14th and 15th hat tricks – nine years.

Toronto native, Steve Vickers, made NHL history in the 1972-73 season when, as a rookie, he made back-to-back hat tricks while playing for the New York Rangers. “The Sarge”, as he was known, complementing a team who had other commanding nicknames like defenseman Jim “Chief” Neilson and Ted Irvine, the “Baby-faced Assassin”, scored the back-to-backers against the Los Angeles Kings on November 12th, 1972 and then the Philadelphia Flyers on November 15th, 1972.

Natural

Although a hat trick is special on its own, a natural hat trick is even more special. A natural hat trick occurs when one player from one team scores three goals consecutively, without a goal from a player from either their own team, or the opposing team, interrupting the sequence with a goal of their own. I’ve seen that twice, both with the Southern Illinois Ice Hawks, and with a player on the Predators of Jonquiere.

The fastest hat trick ever was a natural hat trick, taking 21 seconds. It was scored in 1952 by Winnipeg-born Bill Mosienko, playing for the Chicago Black Hawks in a game against the New York Rangers.

The St. Louis Blues Captain, David Backes, bagged a natural hat trick playing against the Arizona Coyotes on January 6th, 2015. Backes’ scoring didn’t stop there: #42 had 4 goals in total in the 6-0 win. And, talk about ‘give your head a shake’, Blues right-winger, TJ Oshie #74, assisted on 3 of those 4 goal, having a hat trick of assists. Backes’ hat trick gave the Blues their 9th ever back-to-back hat trick as Oshie had scored 3 goals during their previous game against the San Jose Sharks on January 3rd, 2015. That game, which gave the Blues a 7-2 win, also netted 3 assists for Winnipeg-born Alexander Steen – two on Oshie’s goals and one assist on former Notre Dame Hound, Jaden Schwartz, #17.  Schwartz went on in the next game to get 3 assists at home in a game against the San Jose Sharks in a game where no hat tricks were made but the Blues won 8-2. That win was the first time in franchise history that the Blues pulled off three consecutive wins with 5 point (or more) differences.

Gordie Howe

Perhaps wrongly-named in honour of #9, Mr. Hockey, the Gordie Howe Hat Trick goes to a player who has a goal, an assist and a fight, all in the same game. The expression “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” came into use after Howe had retired and although Howe was a scorer and not afraid to be scrappy, there are only one or two games where he had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick of his own.

Some pundits feel the expression would have been better named for Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, and that would have made a lot of sense, Near the end of the 1954-55 season, Richard was suspended for the second time that year for fighting, but this time it involved hitting a linesman who’d been holding Richard back during a fight. That suspension, which included the playoffs, caused a riot in Montreal. The following morning, Richard appealed to the people of Montreal for calm.

The Hockey News listed forward Stan Mikita of the Chicago Blackhawks as the leader of Gordie Howe Hat Tricks with 22, but that number is also disputed. The Society for International Hockey Research lists Brendan Shanahan as the leader with 17, but a contributor to Hockey Fights gives evidence that Rick Tocchet is actually the leader, with 18. Adding to the controversy is the lack of records around hat tricks – the NHL started tracking them in 1985, and do not keep Gordie Howe hat tricks as a separate category although NBC Sports keeps a current list of NHL Hat Tricks and Gordie Howe Hat Tricks.

The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, has one Gordie Howe Hat Trick in his career.

Others

The Bleacher Report published an article back in 2009 stating there were 10 different kinds of hat tricks – nine of the them named after players. That list includes:

  • the Mario Lemieux, given to a player who has a goal, a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal
  • the Joe Thornton, for 3 assists
  • the Alexander Ovechkin, given to the player who bags two regular and one overtime goal but perhaps it would have been better named as the Jordan Staal, as that’s exactly what he did in his rookie year.

 

3 Comments

  1. Very interesting! I didn’t know there was more than one kind. The Gordie Howe Hat Trick reminded me of the movie Goon. Have you seen it?

  2. Heather

    Great read! I had no idea there were so many different types of hat tricks, and I’ve been a hockey mom a LONG time! 🙂

    • Hat tricks are special, indeed. The first time I ever hear the expression “natural hat trick”, I was hooked, always keeping my eyes peeled for the next one.

      Also special are the hats. Of course these days, if a hat trick is scored in an NHL game, caps and toques will litter the ice, and the cameras won’t show it anymore as the powers that be find it in poor taste — much like streaking at a NFL game! I find that a pity, because a town’s willingness to throw their $30 dollar hats onto an ice rink should be heralded as a sign of the fans’ commitment to the team.

      A while back, one of the kids on one of the teams that Nic played on scored a hat trick and the parents threw their caps: the ref gave us a warning but it looked to us grandstand coaches that a 2:00 penalty might be in store for our team. Sad, that. I like to celebrate the extraordinary!

      xoxo

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