The National Hockey League selects three stars each week and each month, as a way to highlight the best individual performances during a given time period. Three stars are picked out after each game as well.
Yet, those aren’t the only accolades being distributed. Teams have taken it upon themselves to award certain prizes to the player of the game. Said player usually wears or holds the item with pride during post-game interviews. He then later passes the proverbial baton to his teammate, unless he retains it after the next game.
From WWE-like championship belts to fedoras and more, here are a few of these unique post-game talismans and their origins.
In 2011, the New York Rangers played a preseason game in Gothenburg, Sweden. Following the win, the players went out to a nightclub and met a local woman, Helena Erikson, and became fond of her fedora. Then-Rangers center Brad Richards paid Erikson $100 for the hat—sold for $18 at H&M, according to Erikson—and a tradition began. The fedora even has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The Florida Panthers made headlines during the 2015-16 season when their Spacey in Space sweatshirt—a blue hoodie with Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey’s head floating in space—became the team’s post-game Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Spacey wore the sweatshirt while attending one of Florida’s games; the team then went on to finish the regular season with a franchise-best 103 points. Forward Shawn Thornton needed to come up with something new for 2016-17: enter Vinnie’s Barbershop, a black barber’s cape, first worn by goaltender Roberto Luongo, who coincidentally had shaved off the thick beard he grew over the summer. The players are keeping mum on the cape’s origins.
Synonymous with boxers, MMA fighters, and professional wrestlers, championship belts have made their way outside of the ring and into the hockey arena. Similar to the Chicago Blackhawks championship belt utilized during their 2010 Stanley Cup run, the Arizona Coyotes adopted a customized WWE-like belt, thanks to then-goalie Jason LaBarbera and then-defenceman Keith Yandle—both big wrestling fans.
Like the Panthers, the Calgary Flames aren’t short on post-game MVP paraphernalia. After years of awarding a fireman’s helmet to a player for his hard work, the Flames have since adopted a black cowboy hat to honor the Calgary Police Service. The hat is awarded to the Flames’ hardest worker in each game. The gift was given by Calgary Police chief Roger Chaffin to Flames captain Mark Giordano.
Not surprisingly, the hard hat is a symbol of hard work within the New Jersey Devils locker room. The item, a black hard hat full of red and orange flames, and a hockey puck attached to the brim, is awarded to the player whose contribution to the team’s win could be overlooked in the stat sheet—we’re talking sliding to block shots, taking off the gloves for a fight to spark the team, and more.
The Carolina Hurricanes have utilized a Zen-related philosophy to honor individual performances after victories: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” The saying emphasizes being in the moment and understanding the importance of the process. Just because a goal is fulfilled doesn’t mean the hard work is done. The ax, which travels with the Hurricanes during the season, is awarded to a player after each win, while the pail stays at the team’s home weight room.
Kevin “Duffy” Shovel Award—Pittsburgh Penguins
Pigeon of the Game—Buffalo Sabres
Haida Hat—Vancouver Canucks
Spacey in Space sweatshirt—Florida Panthers
Honest Abe hat and beard—Washington Capitals
Toy crown—Columbus Blue Jackets
Fighter jet pilot helmet—Winnipeg Jets
Firefighter helmet—Calgary Flames