Glossary: Hat Trick
Origins in Cricket
Although many players aspire to attain a hat trick, most have no idea of its origins. In addition to hockey, athletes in soccer and lacrosse compete for hat tricks, but cricket players first coined the term. In cricket, a hat trick occurs when a bowler knocks over three wickets with three consecutive balls. Both the consecutive aspect and the number of wickets needed to attain a hat trick make it very challenging to conquer.
Several myths surround exactly how this athletic achievement became known as a hat trick. According to one story, club owners honored players who accomplished this feat by presenting them with a new hat. In another version, players who knocked over three wickets passed around their hat to collect pennies from fans.
Introduction to Hockey
Mystery also persists on how hat tricks entered the hockey world. One legend attributes their introduction to a Toronto player named Sammy Taft. In 1946, he agreed to give Chicago Blackhawk Alex Kaleta a free hat if he scored three goals in an upcoming game. Kaleta scored three times, and Taft followed through with his promise. He gave other players who achieved this feat free hats as well.
In another story, the Henri Henri Ltée hat store in Montreal supposedly brought the term to hockey because the store awarded any NHL player who scored three or more goals in one game with a free hat.
Regardless of how the term entered locker room and bleacher conversations of hockey enthusiasts, players of all levels dream of scoring three goals and making a hat trick. Today, when NHL professionals score three goals in a game for a hat trick, fans honor their feat by throwing their baseball caps onto the ice. Most arenas allows fans to reclaim their hats after the game and donate the remaining caps to charity.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Rose Conry, an intern with the Grow the Game Initiative, for this story. Rose studies journalism at Northwestern University, loves all sports and sails competitively with the university’s club team.
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