Hockey teams are known for their extravagant game day promotions and gimmicks. This past weekend, the Vancouver Canucks ECHL affiliate set a world record, the first time an ECHL team has ever done something like that.
Vancouver’s ECHL affiliate, the Kalamazoo Wings, put themselves into the Guinness Book of World Records with one of the best fan engagements by a minor league team. The successful record attempt was the biggest lightsaber battle in history. Over 3,500 fans took part in the first intermission battle, fake fighting each other with lightsabers for three and a half minutes.
The K-Wings gave away free lightsabers to fans upon their entry in the stadium and encouraged their supporters to remain in the seats after the final buzzer to end the first period. The battle took place in front of a certified world record judge who deemed that there were enough fighters to warrant a successful world record attempt. It is not the first time that the K-Wings have attempted this record, but it’s the first time they have successfully broken it.
Minor league teams across every sport are known for their various gimmicks and fan engagement activities, but few reach the recognition level of the K-Wings did this weekend. In this article, I countdown my five favourite minor league gimmicks and promotions pulled off by hockey teams.
- Vancouver Giants Christmas Sweater
The Vancouver Giants, members of the Western Hockey League (WHL) have become infamous for their ugly Christmas sweater jersey designs they have worn over the years. These jerseys are traditionally worn on the team’s teddy bear toss night where fans throw teddy bears onto the ice for donation to various local children’s charities. The 2018 version of the jersey was something special, outdoing any other gimmick jersey I have ever seen.
- Blackhawks hard hat night
The Chicago Blackhawks decided that it would be a good idea to give away hard hats in honour of the fans who have built the famous hockey club. However, what they did not account for was the possibility of a hat trick and the lack of intellectual thinking hockey fans possess. Of course, Jonathan Toews would score three goals that night, leading to thousands of hard plastic hats being chucked from the stands, damaging the ice and the people in striking distance of the hats. While this was not exactly a fantastic promotion, it did teach the team’s an important lesson in what NOT to do as a promotion.
- Pink The Rink
Pink The Rink has become a popular tradition among minor league teams and if it was not banned in the NHL, it would likely be popular there as well. In honour of Hockey Fights Cancer and breast cancer awareness month, most teams below the NHL will dye their ice pink, giving the game some colour which it lacks for most of the season.
There are a ton more successful and hilarious promotions that have taken place in hockey rinks, but the latest one from the Kalamazoo Wings is one of the best and is the first one to be certified as a Guinness World Record.
Vancouver Giants 2018 (Vancouver Giants)
Toews among the hard hats (The Associated Press)
Kalamazoo’s pink rink (ECHL.com)