Connor McDavid's sixth NHL hat trick made headlines all over the League on Thursday. It also provided a helping hand to the Edmonton community.
One day after the Edmonton Oilers center scored three goals as part of a six-point game in a 6-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche, the hats tossed onto the ice by fans in his honor went to those less fortunate.
"Because of where Rogers Place is situated, right downtown, we have lots of social agencies in the neighborhood," said Natalie Minckler, executive director of the Oilers Foundation, which estimated over 300 hats were collected. "Every time one of our players has a hat trick, we gather up the hats and donate them to our neighbors."
On Friday, the foundation took about 100 hats each to Hope Mission, the Mustard Seed, and Boyle Street Community Services.
"We got a call this morning saying they were coming," said Kate Halsey, who works in community engagement for Hope Mission, the largest provider of meals and shelter in Edmonton. "They are a foundation that connects the Oilers hockey franchise to the community."
Minckler said the foundation starting the hat trick donation when the Oilers began playing at Rogers Place at the start of the 2016-17 season. Since then, there have been seven hat tricks by Oilers players on home ice, including three by McDavid.
When McDavid scored his third goal at 8:32 of the second period, Minckler and her team sprang into action.
"I got a text at 11 last night asking, 'where are we going with the hats'," she said. "We organize the hats, and the people line up. They are so appreciative, and they knew it was from Connor's hat trick."
An Oilers player doesn't have to score three goals for the foundation to take action. They are busy all year, including having Oilers players serve food at the annual Hope Mission Christmas party.
"We've really engrained ourselves as a partner in the community," Minckler said of the foundation which was established in 2001. "We've donated over $4.3 million to North Alberta charitable organizations."
Halsey said the Oilers and Oilers foundation are a key part of the city.
"I think it's really pretty cool the Oilers do stuff like that," Halsey said. "For them to give a piece of their game to the community, it's pretty impactful. It's says they care."