ST. PAUL -- Teams from around the NHL have different postgame traditions to reward the best or hardest-working player.
The New York Rangers award a top hat. The Washington Capitals award a stovepipe hat and a beard to make their honoree look like Abraham Lincoln. Others have used professional wrestling belts or firemen hats.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau was speaking to about 300 members of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association on Aug. 24 when the idea for the Wild's postgame ritual was hatched.
Afterward, Boudreau asked St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell and the Ramsey County Sheriff's office for a policeman's hat that can be given to the team's "Hero of the Game."
"I thought, 'These guys are heroes,'" Boudreau said. "I asked the players, I knew it might be a little controversial. But these guys are heroes and they deserve something."
For road games, the "Hero of the Game" is given the sheriff's hat. At home, the St. Paul Police hat is awarded. The winner of the hat from the previous game selects the winner of the next game.
"It doesn't mean the best player of the game," Boudreau said. "It might be a guy [who blocks] a shot with a minute to go."