UNLESS a member of the Winnipeg Jets is able to channel his inner Willy Lindstrom or Alexei Zhamnov, Canada Safeway's Score & Win grand prize might be the safest bet around.
The Calgary-based grocery chain will give away $1 million to a lucky Manitoba customer if one of the Jets can score five goals in a single game (including overtime but not shoot-outs). If nearly three-quarters of the season is any guide, however, there's little danger any Safeway shopper will feel compelled to re-enact Teemu Selanne's famous goal celebration by throwing up a head of lettuce and pretending to shoot it down in the produce aisle.
No Jet has even managed a hat-trick this season. In fact, only five players have managed to score twice in a single contest -- Evander Kane (six times), Bryan Little (twice), Blake Wheeler, Jim Slater and Nik Antropov (all once each). As a team, the Jets have only scored five goals or more seven times all season and they have been held to one goal or less 21 times. That doesn't mean Safeway is happy, however.
"We hope to give away $1 million," said John Graham, the company's manager of public affairs. "There is no additional cost to us for giving away a million-dollar prize. There would be nothing better for our promotion and our company than to give away $1 million."
Safeway has taken out an insurance policy in case somebody does score five times in a single game. It pays a flat fee every year on the policy, similar to what many charity golf tournaments do when they offer a free car to the first person to hit a hole-in-one on a particular hole.
If the necessary goals are scored, the winning shopper don't run down to their nearest Safeway location and demand the tills be emptied. Instead, they'll receive a $50,000 payment from Safeway's insurance company every year for the next 20 years.
Cliff Feldstein, president of Promotivate, a Toronto-based ad agency that administers Score & Win, said companies take out insurance policies to provide cost certainty and reduce their risk.
"This is the most effective way of running a program like this. They don't want to have to keep this money aside in the event (a player scores five goals)," he said.
Insurers look at proposals, figure out the odds of a particular event happening and determine what they'll charge for insurance. They won't even consider policies for three or even four goals in a game by a single player because of their relative frequency, he said.
"It puts (Safeway) in a space where it desperately wants (the five goals) to happen. That's when a Safeway shopper wins the money and all of the excitement really picks up."
These guys did it
THERE have been 60 instances in NHL history where one player has scored five goals in a single game. Considering the feat was accomplished four times each by Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, it's remarkable that two of the remaining 52 times belong to former members of the Winnipeg Jets.
Willy Lindstrom turned the trick on March 2, 1982, in a 7-6 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers and Alexei Zhamnov duplicated it more than 13 years later on April 1, 1995, in a 7-7 tie with the Los Angeles Kings.