The commentator may have mentioned the term hat trick while you are watching hockey. Perhaps you have seen people throwing hats into the ring when a hat trick happens. But then, what is a hat trick in hockey?
A hat trick happens when a player scores three goals in a game. The goals can be scored in succession or between goals from other players. A Hat trick is a rare achievement for a player and is usually given an ovation, and fans attending the game may throw their hats into the ring as a gesture of appreciation.
This article discusses hat tricks and some other questions that you may have about it. For example, how rare are the odds to score a hat trick, and who has the most hat trick in NHL history.
Why Is A Hat Trick Called A Hat Trick?
Several stories may explain the term, including that it originated from the game of cricket and then imported into hockey. Another points to a bet between a hockey player and a hat store owner in Toronto, Canada. Regardless, the term hat trick is used in many sports to describe the same thing.
Many also wonder why the term’ hat trick’ is used to describe scoring three goals when a more easily understood term could be used, such as ‘triple score.’ However, the term turns out to come with its sort of origin.
First points the term hat trick to the sport of English cricket. There is a tradition in English cricket clubs to celebrate when a player scores three wickets in a row. A wicket in cricket is similar to a pitcher striking out a batter.
Usually, when that happens, the bowler (similar to the pitcher in baseball) will be given a hat at the club’s expense to commemorate the occasion. This practice eventually gives rise to the term ‘hat trick, as scoring 3 wickets are the trick to earn a new hat.
Another origin of the hat trick is closer to home, from Toronto, Canada. On January 26, 1946, Alex Kaleta, a speedy forward with the Chicago BlackHawks, visited a hat shop by Sammy Taft.
Alex became interested in a fedora hat but did not have enough funds to purchase it. Knowing Alex as a hockey player, Taft offered Kaleta the hat for free if he could score three goals at the game against Toronto Maple Leafs that night.
The game ended 6-5 to the Maple Leafs, but Alex did score three goals. As a result, the story of Alex Kaleta winning a hat from Sammy Taft was picked up by local media as ‘Alex Kaleta’s Hat Trick.’ The term hat trick stayed in use until today.
How Do You Score A Hat Trick In Hockey?
A hat trick is scored when a player scores three goals in a game. The three goals can come consecutively or scored between other players’ goals. A player scoring three goals consecutively in a game is called a natural hat trick and is considered an even rarer feat.
Within the game of ice hockey, a hat trick happens when a player scores three goals in a game. A goal is counted when a player shoots the puck, and the puck travels past opposing players or the goalie and lands inside the goal net.
Depending on how the three goals are scored, they may be called different names. When a player scores three goals consecutively, the hat trick is called a natural hat trick. A natural hat trick is even rarer than a regular hat trick.
Scoring three goals for a hat trick is surprisingly used in many other goal-based sports, such as soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse. Some other sports, such as cricket or baseball, may also use the term but have a different meaning.
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Who Has The Most Hat Trick in NHL History?
The legendary Wayne Gretzky holds the record for the most hat tricks in NHL history, with 50. He scored his hat tricks throughout his 20-year playing career with Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St Louis Blues, and New York Rangers. 20 of the hat tricks were scored in the 1981-82 and 1983-84 seasons.
In the NHL, Wayne Gretzky is probably the Michael Jordan of the NBA. Gretzky played as a center throughout his 20-year playing career from 1979-1999.
Despite his smaller size and stature, he is known for his ability to dodge body checks by opposing players. He is also known for liking to set up behind his opponent’s net, a place many called the ‘Greztsky’s office.’
After 20 seasons of setting records after records in the NHL, Gretzky retired with 61 NHL records. 40 regular season, 15 playoff, and 6 All-Star records. This incredible feat has not been surpassed by any NHL players ever since.
Aside from scoring 1,016 goals throughout his career, Gretzky scored 50 hat tricks. Of these hat trick games, there were some that he scored more than three goals, with nine four-goal games and four-five goal games.
How Rare Is Hat Trick In Hockey?
Hat tricks are the rarest feat in the game of hockey. When 7.6% of games in the 2018-2019 season witnessed a hat trick, it is even rarer than a shutout (12.1%) or a shorthanded goal (18.3%). Only 3.9% of goals scored in the 2018-19 season resulted in a hat trick.
The fact that NHL generally is not a high-scoring affair makes hat tricks relatively hard to achieve. Taking the figures from the 2018-19 season, a game averages out to around 6 goals per game.
That means for a hat trick to happen, a player needs to score half of the goals from a game to record a hat trick. Hockey is a team sport, and goals tend to be rather spread out amongst the players, particularly the forwards. This makes hat tricks even rarer.
In fact, it is the rarest feat in the game of hockey. During the 2018-19 season, only 7.6% of the games witnessed a hat trick. You are more likely to see more:
- A Shoutout, at 12.1%. A shoutout is when one of the teams scores no goals.
- A Shorthanded Goal, at 18.3%. A shorthanded goal is when a goal is scored with the opposing players having lesser players as a result of sin-binning.
Looking at the stats and how Wayne Gretzky was about to record 50 hat tricks over his career shows his legendary ability.
Do Players Who Score Hat Trick Win Awards?
Players who score a hat trick in a game do not win any particular award. However, they usually receive a special ovation from spectators. The game often stops while spectators give an ovation and throw their hats into the ice ring to show their appreciation of the player.
Usually, a player who scores a hat trick does not win any particular award. However, the goals would tally into the player’s season-long goals and may help the player to win season awards.
However, a hat trick is still considered a rare achievement, and the tradition in hockey is to celebrate the player’s feat.
When a hat trick is scored, the game usually stops, and spectators watching it may give a great ovation to the player and throw their hats into the ice ring. This is to show their appreciation to the player, even if the player plays for the opposing team.
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Do You Get Your Hats Back After Throwing It?
Usually, you do not get your hat back after throwing it. The hats are often picked up and offered to the player, who usually chooses to keep one to remember the occasion. The rest may either be cleaned up and donated to charity or kept by the team to show in galleries or museums.
Generally, the hats thrown into the ice ring are quickly picked up and collected at the side to allow the game to continue. At the end of the game, the hats are offered to the player who scored the hat trick.
In many cases, the player would only choose one of the hats as a memento of the occasion, although the player can choose to keep all the hats. The rest would usually be cleaned up and then donated to charity.
Some teams, for example, the Columbus Blue Jackets, choose to keep all the hats and display them to the fans. Its home ground displays all the hats collected from hat tricks since 2001.