What is a Hat Trick in Hockey? History & Top Hockey Hat Trick Players?

Anyone who loves sports is generally familiar with the term hat trick. We mean a positive feat consecutively in a game or achieving a positive score three times at a stretch by the term hat trick. Using this term in various sports is common nowadays. You will get this term in every sport from cricket to football, basketball to lacrosse, and baseball to hockey. But, the difference in hat tricks in all the games is different scoring. Otherwise, the tradition remains the same—hat trick in any game-related positive scoring with the number’ ‘three.”

What is a Hat Trick in Hockey

In hockey or ice hockey, the term hat trick means the occasion when a player or a team scores consecutive three goals during a single game. The condition is all three goals must come during regulation time. It would not be appropriate if you count goals scored during the shootout for the hat trick.

A hat trick is like an achievement for any player related to any sport. Here, I will share the fun facts regarding hat tricks in hockey, stats, and the records of hockey players who scored the most hat tricks. Stay tuned with this guide to knowing everything about a hat trick.

History of Hat Trick in Hockey

The history of originating the term hat trick is quite impressive. This term is so popular that almost everyone, whether related to sports or not, knows the idea of the hat trick. Most sources claimed that the idea of the hat trick was first used in cricket. In 1858, a famous cricketer of that gaming era, H. H. Stephenson, secured three consecutive wickets into his bag within three deliveries. So, his fans gifted him a lot of hats for his fantastic achievement. It is supposed that the idea of the hat trick came from that incident, and gradually, other sports adopted this term.

The history of establishing the phrase hat trick is relatively straightforward, but how it was introduced into hockey is still blurry. Various concepts exist that people believe true of how the term came into hockey. Among these concepts, one thing is common: gift hats to the players who scored goals three times.

The National Hockey League claimed that this tradition of hat trick got popularity in 1940 in professional hockey when a Toronto haberdasher started giving free hats with Toronto Maple Leafs to the hockey players who scored three goals in a single game. Another is that Montreal hatter Henri Henri also resembles the same event occurring between 1950 and 1970 when they used to give free hats to NHL players who managed to score three or more goals in a single game.

However, another slightly different concept of originating a hat trick into hockey, and most importantly, the Hockey Hall of Fame believes this concept to be real. According to this concept, there lived a young and average hockey player of the Chicago Blackhawks named Alex Kaleta. In 1946, he went to a men’s clothing store in Toronto before a game against the Leafs. The store owner, Sammy Taft, had bet with Kaleta that if Kaleta could score three goals in the match, he would give him a free hat. It was tough for Kaleta to achieve three goals in a single game as he was not a very good player, but somehow he could manage to make possible this challenging job and scored four goals. As per the betting rule, Taft had to give a free hat to Kaleta. Then, Taft used this opportunity very cleverly for promotion and claimed he would give a free hat to any Toronto Maple Leaf player who scored three goals.

In addition to these concepts, there are many more debates about how the term hat trick was established in hockey. Despite the mystery of originating the term in hockey, the truth is this term has gained absolute popularity in the game that whenever a hat trick occurs in a hockey match, it becomes like a celebration to players and audiences. People throw their hats to the ice when a player scores the third goal in a single game.

How often does a hat trick happen?

The fascination and excitement seem to occur as a hat trick; it’s’ not that easy. Scoring three consecutive goals in a single match is not a cup of tea for everyone. Only a few experienced and expert hockey players can achieve hat tricks in their careers. You will see very few NHL games where a hat trick occurred, although the frequency is not too low to call the occurrence rare. But, it is undeniable that if you witness a hat trick performed in an NHL match, it will fascinate you for a long time.

Let’s look at how often a hat trick happens in NHL matches.

Season Number of Hat tricks % of Games that have hat tricks
2017-18 81 6.37%
2016-17 59 4.60%
2015-16 67 5.20%

The table shows the records hat tricks for the last few years. This stat highlights that a hat trick in the NHL can occur about 5-6% of the time or once every 7-10 days of the match.

Variations of Hat trick

Most of us only understand the hat trick as achieving positive scoring three times. But there’s a lot more to know about hat tricks in hockey. You can experience mainly two categorized hat tricks in hockey. The first one is the method, which is familiar to us. We call it a hat trick when a player somehow scores three goals in a single game. In this case, the player must score all three goals alone in the course.

On the other hand, another hat trick method is professionally more glorious and often known as a natural hat trick. In a natural hat trick, a player scores three goals against the opponents consecutively without having any interruption during three goals. That means it would be counted as a natural hat trick if other players, whether of his team or the opponent’s team, can’t score any goal during the three goals. Performing a natural hat trick is always difficult and very rare to watch as this is not a piece of cake for everyone.

Who scored the fastest hat trick?

Along with counting the hat tricks, the NHL also keeps records of the times taken for performing the hat tricks. According to the stats and records, Chicago Blackhawks forward Bill Mosienko performed the fastest hat trick on 23rd March 1952. He unexpectedly scored three goals within 21 seconds in the game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. In that game, the defenceman was Hy Bullar, who played with a broken foot for the understaffed New York team. Bill could take the record to the next level if he could accomplish his fourth goal in 26 seconds, but unfortunately, he missed the goal.

The second-fastest hat trick was accomplished by Jean Beliveau, who recorded three goals in 44 seconds. A well-known player, Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning, performed the recent fast hat trick in 91 seconds, which is stunning in the modern NHL.

However, we do not think Bill’s fastest record can be broken as the time count is too short of performing three goals in the modern NHL matches.

Who has the most hat tricks?

In this section, you will find records of top players accomplishing hat tricks.

Total career hat tricks

SL no. Player’s name Career year Number of hat tricks
1 Wayne Gretzky 1979-99 50
2 Mario Lemieux 1984-06 40
3 Mike Bossy 1977-87 39
4 Brett Hull 1986-06 33
5 Phil Esposito 1963-81 32
6 Bobby Hull 1957-80 28
7 Marcel Dionne 1971-89 28
8 Maurice Richard 1942-60 26
9 Cy Denneny 1917-29 25
10 Jari Kurri 1980-98 23

Undoubtedly, Wayne Gretzky has the most hat tricks in his career with several 50 hat tricks.

Most hat tricks in a single season

Player’s name Season Number of Hat tricks
Wayne Gretzky 1983-84 10
Mike Bossy 1980-81 9
Mario Lemieux 1988-89 9
Brett Hull 1991-92 8

Leaders in Hat Tricks By Year

Year Player’s’ name Numbers of hat tricks
2018-19 Patrik Laine 3
2017-18 Alex DeBrincat, Alex Ovechkin, Connor McDavid 3
2016-17 Patrik Laine 3
2015-16 Zach Parise 3
2014-15 Corey Perry 3
2013-14 Max Pacioretty, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin 3
2012-13 Nazem Kadri, Chris Kunitz, Alex Ovechkin 2
2011-12 Evgeni Malkin 3
2010-11 Alexander Semin, Drew Stafford 4
2009-10 Sidney Crosby 3

What happens to all of the hats after the hat trick?

The practice of a hat trick in hockey is always a center of attraction to the viewers. According to hockey’s hat trick tradition, audiences throw their hats onto the ice whenever a hat trick occurs. Some people might think of it as an aggressive act, but this symbolizes showering love and respect on the player for his efforts. Any person unfamiliar with hockey’s hat trick tradition can be surprised by seeing so many hats thrown onto the ice if a player records three goals.

But, the question arises here, what happens to these hats after the match? The arena workers pick up and gather all the hats into a place. After ending the game, three things might get happen to these hats.

First, the arena management team or authorizers will present these hats to the player who recorded the hat trick to keep. In most cases, they do not accept all the hats; instead, they keep one hat as a memento of their achievement and cherish the celebration in the future.

For the next step, the team would offer fans to get their hats back. So, they keep these hats for a while with them. The people who claim their hats in this period can get back their hats. The team then sent the remaining unclaimed hats to a local charity. Usually, the group finds the best of the hats, cleans them, and then donates to charity. Local charities either give those hats to needy people directly or sell them to thrift stores and collect money for their clients.

Nevertheless, some teams, including Columbus Blue Jackets, keep all the hats in a massive case in the team’s home arena’s main concourse.

So, here it was all for the hat trick in hockey. Recently another fun term has been added to the game: rat trick. In October 1995, Florida Panthers captain Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the Panthers” locker room with his hockey stick. On the same day, Mellanby scored a hat trick in the match, and fans started throwing plastic rats on the court. This act continued throughout the 1996 playoffs at the Panthers” all goals. This resulted in a game delay for cleaning up themes in between the match. So, the league eventually banned the tradition and imposed a minor penalty against the home team.

However, throwing hats is exempt from this penalty; honestly, this tradition has become a part of hockey. Occurring hat tricks in a hockey match has always been a center of attraction to the viewers and will be continued to do so.


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