The Teddy Bear Toss is easily one of the best traditions in minor league hockey. The concept is a simple one. Bring a stuffed animal (it doesn't have to be a teddy bear) to the game that has been designated the "Teddy Bear Toss" game. Wait for the home team to score their first goal. Immediately chuck your stuffed animal(s) on the ice where they are then collected and donated to charity just in time for the Holidays.
The simple yet brilliant tradition is growing and it's slowly taking over minor league hockey.
The video above features the 18th annual Teddy Bear Toss by the Calgary Hitmen, the team that started it all. At their 2012 Teddy Bear Toss, the Hitmen had 21,453 stuffed animals hit the ice. This caused a delay of nearly 45 minutes – a delay that might have only bothered the Hitmen's opponent that night.
We've discussed this very tradition here at PDL in the past, highlighting the Calgary Hitmen. However, it's important to note that the tradition has grown quite a bit and has several teams taking part in their own Teddy Bear Toss.
The Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL have a similar, yet smaller version of the Teddy Bear Toss. This year they collected just over 7,000 stuffed animals. The video below not only shows the event but also offers some background on the event.
The tradition hasn't just been picked up by other Canadian teams. The Hershey Bears of the AHL (Washington Capitals affiliate) also participate in a Toss, which you can see below. This year the Bears collected 12,947 animals.
This is what makes hockey special. The Teddy Bear Toss is a remarkable event that's not only fun (who doesn't want to throw something on the ice without being kicked out?) but it helps a great cause near the Holidays.
It'd be nice to see the NHL create its own version of the Toss. No one wants to see them rip off the idea but it would be great if the NHL could come up with a fun idea like this one that provides a unique experience while helping charity. They can come up with an idea or two after they've figured out how to actually play the games.