ST. PAUL -- Ever wonder what happens to the headwear thrown onto the Xcel Energy Center ice following a hat trick by a Wild player?
For nearly a decade, including three times this season, all hats thrown on the ice have been collected and counted. The total number of hats is the amount purchased by the team from the Hockey Lodge. The new hats are then hand delivered to Children's Hospitals and Clinics and donated by the player who scores the hat trick.
"It's something I really enjoyed," said Wild forward Mikael Granlund, one of the Wild players who has delivered those lids following his hat trick against Nashville on Dec. 29. "Just to go there and see the smiles on their faces and on their families' faces, any time you have a chance to do something like that, it's awesome."
The night Granlund scored his hat trick, fans threw 123 hats on the ice. Less than one week later, Nino Niederreiter scored three goals in a game and 97 more hats were tossed over the glass.
When Eric Staal tallied his hat trick, 221 pieces of headware were tossed over the glass, likely because fans threw hats twice, apparently unaware of a scoring change that had taken a goal away from Staal earlier in the game.
Video: Staal delivers hat trick hats
Fans thought Staal had scored three, when he had actually scored just twice. Still, about 100 hats came raining down.
Later in the period, however, Staal scored again, finishing off the hat trick for real. More than 100 more hit the ice after that goal.
Staal and his wife, Tanya, and Nordy delivered 221 hats to Children's on Monday, and also spent time meeting several kids, taking pictures, playing games and signing autographs.
"The more hat tricks we get, the more people throw their hats on [the ice] and the more they're donating back to the hospitals," Staal said. "It's unfortunate that sometimes, people have to spend some time in the hospital and go through things in life. But for me to be able to come here and come with Nordy and just do what regular kids do in a nice little play area like this, is special."
Video: Granlund, Niederreiter hat delivery
Wild fans should have even more incentive to throw their hats on the ice now with a new policy being implemented by the team.
While a 15 percent discount on a new hat at the Hockey Lodge on the night of any hat trick has been standard for years, fans have not been allowed to retrieve their hats after tossing them on the ice.
Previously, those hats were collected, counted and tossed in the trash for sanitary reasons. Now, those hats will be brought to the guest services counter at Section 104, where fans will have 30 minutes from the end of the game to claim their hats.
The tradition of purchasing and donating hats following a hat trick dates back to the 2009-10 season. The hope is the new hat retrieval policy will encourage more fans to be willing to toss those hats on the ice any time a Wild player scores three goals in a game.