Let’s face it, there are a lot of games in a hockey season and only so many local/regional celebrities and office-seekers to drop game-opening first pucks. Who better to fill the gaps in the schedule than trained pups?
Dogs have great charisma, and introduce a welcome element of suspense not normally present in the ritual. All eyes are at center ice! What’s gonna happen? Will he pull it off? Get distracted? Freak all the way out? Let’s watch and see! It’s a treat for everyone, with the possible exception of the home team captain, who has to handle a somewhat slobberier puck than you get in a typical ceremony.
Enjoy these assembled clips of good boys and girls dropping the ceremonial first puck.
Here’s Corporal Nero, a bomb sniffer from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, dropping the puck at the Honda Center in Anaheim:
Here’s a yellow lab named Vincent, a military support dog, doing the honors at the erstwhile Pepsi Center (now Ball Arena):
Here’s Charlie, a black lab training in the Vet Dogs program, center ice at the Barclays Center:
Now to Gila River Arena with Fury, a Belgian Malinois with plenty of pep who works as a police dog in Phoenix:
Here’s a slightly reluctant military working dog called Grizzly, opening the 2020 NHL Stadium Series at the U.S. Air Force’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs:
Here’s Rookie, a guide dog in training, doing the honors at Canadian Tire Centre. Rookie’s got a great, thick filament of drool going:
Here’s Helen, a military working dog who’s a bit of a wild card, dropping the puck at PNC Arena:
Here’s Kalo, a military service dog who, lucky for us viewers at home, is wearing a pooch’s POV harness cam at T-Mobile Arena:
Finally, let’s go outside the NHL to the Stockton Arena, former home of the Stockton Thunder (now defunct), where police dog Thor performs the best puck drop in this list, picking it up and tossing it to the ice. Darth Vader and some imperial stormtroopers are also present for some reason: