Before the bye week, Alex Ovechkin scored hat tricks in consecutive games for the third time in his career. Ovechkin’s first hat trick came in a home game against the New Jersey Devils on January 16. With 4:18 remaining in the third period, Tom Wilson sent a no-look, backhanded pass towards the crease that Ovechkin one-timed home for his third goal of the game. Joyful Capitals fans threw their hats onto the ice.
Members of the Capital One Arena ice crew began collecting the headwear for removal as Ovechkin celebrated. Towards the end of the cleanup, a fancy fedora featuring a bow was thrown onto the ice near the Capitals bench. Referee Chris Schlenker retrieved the oversized hat and handed it to a smirking John Carlson. The Capitals defenseman then plopped it on Braden Holtby’s head. The Holtbeast cheesed before giving the hat to a Capitals staff member behind him.
Video of the moment went viral in Capitals circles online.
After some crowdsourcing, we learned that the person who threw the hat onto the ice was Capitals’ fan Milissa Murray. She first revealed herself in the comments of a Capitals Facebook post and we later confirmed the news.
“I like hats! I have a lot of them,” Milissa said in an interview with RMNB. “I bought this one a few years ago at the gift shop at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco, which was made famous in 1974 by Joni Mitchell in her song For Free. It was a light grey felt, a wide-brimmed hat, perfect for winter. I wore it a lot. It was stylish and kept my head warm!”
Milissa wearing the hat at the game.
Milissa first got into hockey due to her son Jake, who played organized hockey as a mite at age five and continued until he aged out at 18. Jake, a left wing, played hockey for the Navy Youth Hockey club in Annapolis for about 15 years. “He was a terrific player and my husband, daughter, and I loved going to his games. I guess that’s how I got interested in the NHL and the Caps,” Milissa said.
Milissa bought tickets to the game with the intention of her husband Doug being able to go. But since he couldn’t, she brought Jake, now 22, to the game. He recently graduated from American University and lives in DC.
Milissa, her son, and his girlfriend at a previous Capitals game.
“We were sitting in Section 229, Row E high up and directly behind the Caps bench,” Milissa said. “I was a bit worried about how the game would go given New Jersey’s win earlier in the week. But it was a great game. Then Ovi scored his third goal. Everyone started throwing hats. It was such a thrill to be there for it. I don’t think I’ve ever been to an NHL game when someone made a hat trick.”
“Anyway, I realized a little late that I had this great fedora type hat that would soar like a frisbee and I had a huge urge to throw it!” Milissa added. “But I liked this hat and wasn’t sure I would be able to get it back. My son discouraged me. But the urge was too great. I wanted to be a part of the excitement. We love the Caps.”
So Milissa stepped out into the aisle, wound up, and slung it as far as she could.
“I was horrified when it didn’t make it onto the ice, but someone picked it up and threw it out there!” Milissa said.
The fan who ultimately threw it onto the ice, Katherine, sits right next to the tunnel and directly behind the bench. She “laughed pretty hard” during the experience.
“I sit in section 121,” Katherine said. “The hat fell into the seat in front of me. I picked it up and hesitated for a second because play was about to start again, but decided to throw it onto the ice! I sort of frisbee tossed it.”
“It was the last hat thrown on the ice,” Milissa said. “Jake and I watched as the ref picked it up and handed it to Carlson who then put it on Holtby’s head. We were delighted to see this.”
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Here’s a diagram of the hat’s journey from Milissa throwing it from the upper deck to ultimately ending up on Braden Holtby’s head.
Capital One Arena diagram via the Capitals website.
After the game, Milissa ran down to the lower level and spoke to fan services to try and retrieve her hat.
“The arena worker said ‘impossible,'” Milissa said. “The cart had been wheeled to the elevator and upstairs. Oh well, I thought. It’s okay. I knew when I threw it, it would probably be gone forever, but I chose to do it anyway. The desire to be a bigger part of the event was just too strong. I don’t regret it.”
Over the last few years, the Capitals have packaged up the hats and put them in a hat trick display on the lower level of Capital One Arena.
Milissa saw the video clip of Holtby wearing her hat on the way home.
“I was amazed, and loved seeing Carlson and Holtby share a laugh with my hat,” Milissa said. “Everyone knows Holtby loves hats!” Indeed, Holtby wears fedoras almost to every home game and it’s a major part of his look.
When she arrived home, Milissa’s husband was watching the game on DVR and yelled at her not to spoil it.
“It was killing me not to blurt out what happened,” Milissa said. “I had to wait about 45 minutes. Then I saw the clip on TV and the analysts were laughing about the ‘fedora’ or ‘sombrero.’ I pointed and my husband yelled, ‘Oh my god, is that your hat?!'”
“It was too funny,” she said.
Headline photo: NBC Sports Washington
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