Handing out 10,000 hard hats might not be the brightest promotion at a sport in which fans are known to toss their headwear on the playing surface to celebrate the outstanding accomplishment of a player. And as luck would have it, Jonathan Toews’ first career hat trick just so happened to occur on “Blackhawks Hard Hat Night” Friday against the Penguins.

Toews actually made it rain plastic novelty hats twice: His original third goal was waived off after a replay. Not one to disappoint, Toews scored an indisputable third goal a little later and those who hadn’t already tossed their helmets did so with a remarkable furvor. There were so many helmets on the ice that the Ice Crew — usually only good for drawing cat calls from legions of drunk, middle-aged men while half-hearted scooping up ice shavings during stoppages of play — had to be summoned from the sidelines — where they normally spend most of the game trying to make eyes at players — to half-heartedly help scoop up the hundreds of hard hats.

“I didn’t know why they were handing out fake hard hats before the game,” said Michael Longley, a fan from the Far North Side. “I thought maybe the concrete was falling like at Wrigley. I guess they knew Toews was going to ring up a hat trick, and were hoping we’d make it memorable by heaving them on the rink so that was pretty cool.”

Oh, and when it was all said and done, the Hawks dropped a really exciting OT game to the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins 5-4.

Not to be outdone, rookie goalie Antti Niemi won his first start Sunday 4-2 over the Kings, which is a relief considering Christobal Huet has failed to step up during the absence of Nikolai Khabibulin whose name I am finally able to spell correctly without looking up.

Fun reason to hop on the bandwagon
You learn words like “kerpuffle,” which Pat Foley used last week to describe something between a scuffle and an actual fight, and “paraphernalia,” as in “Antti Niemi didn’t know where the puck was. It got caught in his paraphernalia.”

Fun reason to hop on the bandwagon II
Jonathan Toews, your young captain, has nine goals and four assists in the last eight games. He’ll probably be doing this for years to come.

Up next for the Hawks
Tuesday they’ll skate against an identity crisis known as the Mighty Anaheim Ducks of … whatever.

By Dan Bradley and Brad Zibung, Blackhawks bandwagon fans