December 01, 2011

Previewing Ottawa's Teddy Bear Toss

As most Ottawa 67's fans know by now, the ice surface at the J Benson Cartage center will be littered with stuffed animals at some point tomorrow night. The 67’s take on the visiting Windsor Spitfires at 7:00 on Friday; as opposed to the usual 7:30 start. While hockey fans across the country can watch the game on national television (Sportsnet), fans in the building can help a great cause with a fun promotion. The Teddy Bear Toss.

Those in attendance are encouraged to bring stuffed animals and, following Ottawa’s first goal of the night, throw them over the glass. It causes a short delay in the game, but all of the animals are picked up and dropped off for the Salvation Army. From there, SA’s toy department distributes the contributions to assorted hospitals and shelters across the city, giving them to the less fortunate in time for the holiday season.

For the casual hockey fan, or non-hockey fan, this concept may seem bizarre. But it’s not the first or last time this promo will take place. In fact, it’s becoming more and more prominent at the Junior level of hockey. The Erie Otters got in on the tradition well in advance of the holidays, hosting their Teddy Bear Toss in November. Kitchener, London and Windsor will be hosting theirs in the next couple of weeks.

This event has taken off in the OHL. It’s also spread to the American Hockey league. If it weren’t for most NHL rinks being two-to-four levels high, this would probably become a tradition even at hockey’s highest league.

Although Wikipedia claims that this custom began in Ontario, its true origins come from the WHL. As such, these games have a much larger turnout – in fans and in teddy bears. Teams in that league have traded turns at holding the record for most bears collected. The Calgary Hitmen are believed to be the current leader, after they collected nearly 27, 000 teddy bears for charity in December of 2007.

Will Ottawa be in the running for a CHL record this Friday night? Well, it’s unlikely, simply because of how huge the toss is in Western hockey. But the 67’s have added another promotion for Friday’s game that should draw some more casual fans - $1 hot dogs and $1 pop. Last season, Travis Gibbons scored against Belleville to start the festivities. With Gibbons no longer a 67, who will step up and send the toys raining down for Ottawa?

1 comment:

cam canada said...

Just watched hundreds of stuffed animals hit the ice!


What a great promo!