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2020-2021 hockey season delayed, but teddy bear toss goes on

Though the 2020-2021 minor-league and junior-hockey seasons have been delayed, teams are still participating in one of the sport’s great traditions–the teddy-bear toss–via drive-up, socially distanced circumstances.

It’s always a big event on the hockey calendar: teams hold a teddy-bear night, and fans are invited to throw a stuffed critter to the ice after the first home goal. Last season the Hershey Bears (AHL) collected an astounding 45,650 stuffed animals during their December 2019 teddy-bear event, considered to be the current world record.

That record is likely to stand: the AHL season has been delayed to February 2021, and with social distancing / smaller crowds likely to be in place at that time, you probably won’t see any 2020-2021 crowds approaching the size needed to lug over 46,000 stuffed animals to an arena. But worry not: the Hershey Bears will indeed hold their toss on January 23, with a drive-up drop-off event set for Giant Center.

Other cities with a traditional teddy-bear event have either already held them or are planning them. The Erie Otters (OHL) held a teddy-bear donation drive last weekend in conjunction with MiLB’s Erie SeaWolves and the G League’s Erie BayHawks, who hosted a contactless drive-thru teddy bear and toy collection benefitting the Salvation Army. By all measures it was a success, even though times are tough across the board. It’s not quite the same satisfying physical act of throwing a teddy bear to the ice, but charity is good for the soul.

In an impressive showing, the Calgary Hitmen (WHL) collected 18,063 stuffed toys for charity in a drive-thru campaign.

Here’s a look at the teddy-bear traditions in the hockey world.

Photo courtesy Erie Otters.

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