(Photo: Presseye)

As the temperatures get colder and the hockey gets hotter, the holiday season descends and adds a bit of spice. Many teams from juniors to the NHL do special things around this time of year—usually to bring smiles to those children who may not get the opportunity to spend the holidays at home.

One thing is for sure, hockey players are good sports when it comes to dancing, singing, lip syncing, and more in videos that will be around long after they have moved on to their next level of hockey or to other avenues of their life. Perhaps it is simply just another way for them to share with their fans; which is something they are all so willing to do.

In addition to the great holiday videos, perhaps the best festivity of the season is when a team hosts a Teddy Bear Toss. There is nothing more fun than seeing the home team pot that first goal of the game and watching it snow teddies! From the colleges of the NCAA to Major Juniors in Canada to the Elite Ice Hockey League in Great Britain to the professional ranks in the states, there have been many teddy tosses.

Perhaps no one will ever outdo the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. When they have a teddy toss, a blizzard of stuffed animals fly onto the ice. This year’s Teddy Toss amassed 24,605 stuffed animals and took 40 minutes to clear, compliments of the goal scored by Vladisclav Yeryomenko.

The stuffed animals from such events are then taken and shared with children at hospitals to hopefully brighten their time in a place that isn’t the most fun to be during the holidays.

At the NHL level, the teams usually visit the hospitals bringing a variety of items representative of their team. The players usually are contented to wear all manner of hats to help bring some laughs, and happily take photos and sign autographs. The Boston Bruins annually go shopping for toys that they then deliver to the many area hospitals. Teams also often donate food to local shelters or host a large meal for the homeless among other events.

Hockey players recognize that they can bring a smile by acting a bit goofy and bringing some stuffed animals, thrown with love by hockey fans, to those who are not home for the festivities. So if your local hockey team offers a Teddy Toss, be sure to throw a couple of and know that they will find the loving arms of a small person.

A family historian by profession, Rhonda R. McClure has loved hockey since she was a child in New Hampshire. Any opportunity to combine her love of writing, hockey and research is something she looks forward to with much enthusiasm. She's been accused of seeking out shinny games when there are no other hockey events taking place. She is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research. Follow her on Twitter at @HockeyMaven1917.


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