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Hat Trick, On Ice

When Alexander Semin scored his third goal for the Caps on Saturday night, I was sitting next to a non-hockey fan, who had one important question: What happens to all of those hats? At the time, great quantities of baseball hats were streaming onto the ice, only to be scooped up by men bearing giant shovels, who then dumped the booty into two huge plastic garbage bins.

(Side note: if you haven't been to an NHL game recently, the giant nets behind the goals make the hat-chuckers have to work a bit harder. On Saturday night, some hat-chuckers opted to stretch out and manually slide the hats underneath the netting, which doesn't seem like all that much fun--"yeah, Semin had a hat trick and I managed to reach up and tuck my hat under the netting and then it dropped down onto the ice, it was pretty awesome"--and a few managed to chuck their hats way up high and over the netting, to great cheers from the crowd. The whole enterprise requires tremendous cooperation from fans, who together relay the hats from the upper seats down to ice level, which is nice to see.)

(Hilarious joke that some genius made in The Post this, you know how, after the third goal, the ice was littered with inexpensive Caps? That's nothing new. Har.)

Anyhow, figuring it was my duty to answer questions for all the non-hockey fans, I went to the locker room after the game and asked some Caps PR types what happens with all of those hats. They didn't know. Moments later, as I hovered around a mob of reporters interviewing hockey players in various states of undress, the PR types told me that the hats are donated to charity, and then directed me into the back of the VC if I wanted to see that night's booty. So I left the undressed players, wandered past some Zambonis, opened an office door, and inside there's a young man playing video games and these two huge plastic garbage bins stuffed with damp, crumpled hats. The young man told me I was free to rifle through the bins, and so I did. Here's what I found:

A total of 99 hats, including

Sixty-two Washington Capitals hats (many still bearing their tags), three Washington Capitals visors, one empty beer cup, one Team Canada hat, one Virginia Tech hat, one Orioles hat, one "77" hat, one "CT" hat, one soda container, one Dallas Cowboys hat, one Detroit Tigers hat, one Etnies hat, one Baltimore Ravens hat, three Skins hats, one Taylor Made hat, one "Woot!" hat, one Navy hat, one "Paris" hat, one Dewar's hat, one Aeropostale hat, more than a dozen giveaway Caps banners, one plain black hat, one Maryland State Open hat, one 2006 World Junior Hockey Championships hat, one Denver Nuggets hat, one "Athletes Against Autism" hat, one Wilsons Leather hat, one Department of Homeland Security hat, one Nats hat, one Oklahoma Sooners hat, one empty gatorade bottle, one Kenai River Classic hat, one Dorman Builders hat, one hat celebrating the 75th anniversary of Flagler Beach Florida, one Nike hat, one U.S.A. hockey hat, one black beret, and one pink and purple knit cap.

(Incidentally, does DHS know that their hats are being thrown away at Caps games to celebrate the accomplishments of Russians? And wouldn't Saturday night be a really bad time to discard your Tigers hat? And who wears a beret to a hockey game?)

The young man playing video games, whose father works at the arena and who didn't seem to find it odd that I was digging through garbage bins filled with hats, told me that about 20 hats had already been claimed by various people who ducked into the office before I arrived. One man in a suit, he told me, left with about five hats. Hopefully it wasn't GMGM.

Also, the garbage bins were about half-full with ice, I guess to make sure the hats didn't go bad. So all the hats, as previously mentioned, were somewhere between damp and soggy. I was praying that the dampness was due solely to the ice, and not to any fans feverishly sweating out that glorious 5-2 win. Next time I go to a Caps game, I'm bringing rubber gloves, just in case.

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 9, 2006; 9:33 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Yet another reason to hate those silly nets.

Find yourself any fedoras?

Posted by: Tyler Green | October 9, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, always wondered what the Caps did with the hats. I know the Flyers donate them and also have a display case for the more monumental collections. I think they also keep records of largest hat donations.

Posted by: Kim | October 9, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Can "Hat Total" be a new Fantasy statistic?

Posted by: Scott | October 9, 2006 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I was looking the nice little number you wear in the column header. I'm sure it was there and was probably taken by the guy in the suit.

Posted by: johnny m | October 9, 2006 12:57 PM | Report abuse

That's some blog dedication right there, rifling through two bags worth of hats. Kudos to you, sir. And kudos again.

(Next time I go to a Caps a game, I'm going to toss a fez on the ice as an homage to Steely Dan.)

Posted by: Colin | October 9, 2006 2:56 PM | Report abuse

VERY fun post Dan! I'd heard that the Capitals give away the unclaimed hats to charity... anyone know if this is true? Just curious.

Posted by: OrderedChaos | October 10, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

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