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Hershey Bears

Fur was a-flyin’ as Teddy Bear Toss season gets under way

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December has arrived and that means it is Teddy Bear Toss season.

Truly the greatest time of year where hockey teams and their fans from all levels and all parts of the globe participate in a great charity effort. Once the home team scores, the fur starts flying down to the ice with numerous local organizations benefiting.

This past weekend we saw a trio of strong Teddy Bear Tosses.

First up, the the AHL’s Hershey Bears, who beat the Hartford Wolf Pack in overtime 4-3, but not before a world-record total of 45,650 stuffed animals were collected following Christian Djoos’ goal.

Bears fans delivered and surpassed the previous record total of 34,798 collected during the 2018 event. Over 40 charities will receive the stuffed animals, including schools, food banks, churches, lions clubs, as well as the Milton Hershey School, Children’s Miracle Network, and the American Cancer Society.

Heading out west and staying in the AHL, the Bakersfield Condors held their event on Saturday night and it was Josh Currie getting the party started late in the first period of a 3-1 victory in front of the fourth-largest crowd in team history.

Here’s the great Ryan Holt to take us through the Condors’ 21st Teddy Bear Toss goal:

The Condors announced on Monday that they collected 8,380 stuffed animals, which will be benefiting local children through the United Way of Kern County.

Staying out west, Carson Focht may have scored the most memorable goal of his career for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen on Sunday afternoon. He only needed 94 seconds to open the scoring to allow the fans inside the Saddledome to toss their stuffed animals from everywhere.

The 25,025 teddy bears that were picked up will benefit 70 local charities with players distributing them on Monday, including a stop at Alberta Children’s Hospital. The Hitmen have been holding the annual event since 1995 and have now collected 402,608 stuffed animals in the last 24 years.

Finally, the WHL’s Vancouver Giants will be holding their Teddy Bear Toss this weekend, but they did release the jersey they’ll be wearing for two games and boy, are they in the holiday spirit.

Vancouver Giants

That’s one way to get festive, and a nice departure from he “ugly sweater” jerseys that have cropped up over the last few years.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Report: Work permit issues could keep Auston Matthews in North America next season

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Auston Matthews, the top rated prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, is likely staying in North America for the 2015-16 season.

According to Pete Judge of ISS, Matthews likely won’t be able to play in Switzerland due to work permit issues. Judge reported on Twitter Sunday that the 17-year-old is having troubles getting a visa because he’s never played professionally before.

Matthews was looking to sign in Europe with ZSC in Switzerland. ZSC is currently coached my former NHLer Marc Crawford.

The Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League own Matthews’ CHL rights. His agent Pat Brisson has hinted in the past that if Europe doesn’t work, his client would likely head to the WHL.

Matthews appeared in 24 games with the U.S. National Under-18 Team during the 2014-15 season scoring 20 goals and 48 points.

McCrimmon turns down offer to join Leafs’ front office

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Brandon Wheat Kings’ executive Kelly McCrimmon will remain with the Western Hockey League club. The 54-year-old had been in talks to join the Toronto Maple Leafs front office.

“I have made the decision to remain with the Wheat Kings,” McCrimmon said in a statement. “I was honored to have been considered for a position with the Maple Leafs. It would have been a tremendous opportunity.”

McCrimmon is the Wheat Kings’ owner, GM and head coach.

He had discussions with Toronto about joining its management team, which includes Kyle Dubas, Mark Hunter and Brandon Pridham.

“With our team expected to contend this season, I felt I owed it to the group to stay here and try to help us take the next step,” McCrimmon added.

Toronto filled out its coaching staff last week adding Jim Hiller, Andrew Brewer and D.J. Smith.

Deadline approaching for Jackets to sign prospect Peter Quenneville

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The Columbus Blue Jackets have already lost prospect goaltender Oscar Dansk who decided to sign in the Swedish Hockey League earlier this week.

According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, the Jackets are now in danger of losing Peter Quenneville.

GM Jarmo Kekalainen tells Portzline the Jackets are still uncertain about signing the forward.

If Quenneville isn’t signed by June 1, he is eligible to go back into this year’s draft.

The 21-year-old has spent parts of two seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League after leaving Quinnipiac University during the 2013-14 season. He had 27 goals and 75 points in 72 games this season.

Quenneville, who is the second cousin of Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and nephew of Islanders’ defenseman Johnny Boychuk by marriage, was the seventh round selection of the Jackets (195th overall) in 2013.

Blue Jackets prospect Bjorkstrand to join Denmark at Worlds

Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand is set to join Team Denmark in at the World Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic.

According to reports, Bjorkstrand could play in Denmark’s game against the Russians on Wednesday.

Bjorkstrand had 63 goals and 118 points in 59 Western Hockey League games with the Portland Winterhawks.

The 20-year-old added 13 goals and 12 assists in 17 playoff games. The Kelowna Rockets eliminated the Winterhawks on Sunday.

He represented Denmark at the World Junior Hockey Championship earlier this year registering four goals and an assist in five games.

Bjorkstrand was the Jackets third-round selection (89th overall) in 2013.