The Washington Capitals hat trick display at Verizon Center. (Photo via the Washington Capitals)

The Capitals announced Thursday a new exhibit at Verizon Center, featuring all the hats thrown onto the ice after Caps hat tricks dating back to 2008, plus a list of all the hat tricks in franchise history.

This was no spontaneous idea, as the Capitals have been collecting hats and planning the display for at least six years. Before that, they had been donating the hats to charity.

After Alex Ovechkin’s playoff hat-trick against the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 4, 2009, Dan Steinberg learned that the hats were being shipped to the Caps’ practice facility in Ballston’s Kettler Capitals Iceplex. In January of 2012, the Caps gave me an update on the hat situation: “We have all the hats from the last several seasons and are still in the process of determining the best location to display them at Verizon Center.”

We’ve got to believe it didn’t really take them this long to figure out the best place to display the hats. So why now? It’s “part of the Capitals’ effort to honor the franchise’s 40th anniversary,” according to the press release.

Fans can see the display near section 111 on the main concourse, and marvel at the piles of hats collected from seven Ovechkin hat tricks, three from now-rival Alexander Semin, and one each from Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer, and former Cap Mathieu Perreault.

From the photo, it looks like they’ve got three more bins to fill, which makes this display remarkably different than the hat-heap at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

Here are the hats they’re featuring:

  • Alex Ovechkin vs. the Boston Bruins on March 3, 2008
  • Alex Ovechkin vs. the Atlanta Thrashers on Nov. 26, 2008
  • Alex Ovechkin vs. the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 1, 2009
  • Alex Ovechkin vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 4, 2009 (Playoffs)
  • Alex Ovechkin vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 7, 2010
  • Nicklas Backstrom vs. the Montreal Canadiens on April 17, 2010 (Playoffs)
  • Alexander Semin vs. the Atlanta Thrashers on Oct. 23, 2010
  • Alexander Semin vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 11, 2010
  • Alexander Semin vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 26, 2010
  • Troy Brouwer vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 13, 2012
  • Mathieu Perreault vs. the Boston Bruins on Jan. 24, 2012
  • Alex Ovechkin vs. the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 23, 2013
  • Alex Ovechkin vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 10, 2013