Don’t Do It! A Hockey Tradition Gets Squashed…

If you’ve watched Detroit Red Wing hockey in the past, you have probably seen fans throwing an octopus (or many octopi) onto the ice. The tradition dates back to 1952, when the octopus represented the eight wins it took to capture the Stanley Cup.

The octopus first made its appearance on April 15, 1952, during the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup playoff run. Two Detroit brothers, Pete and Jerry Cusimano – storeowner’s in Detroit’s Eastern Market – threw the eight-legged cephalopod on the ice at Olympia Stadium. Each tentacle of the octopus was symbolic of a win in the playoffs. Back then, the NHL boasted only six teams, and eight wins (two best-of-seven series) were needed to win the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings swept the series that year, and the Octopus has come to be the good luck charm ever since. ”

The playoffs have just begun and word has quickly spread that the NHL is cracking down on the traditional octopus toss.

After Game 1, Red Wing fan Tommy B, claimed arena personnel encouraged his octopus toss, yet he ended up being ejected and fined $500. Detroit police apparently are enforcing Municipal Code 38-5-4 at the request of the NHL.

“Evidently, police supervisors were informed Wednesday night, either before or during the game, by League representatives that they don’t want anything thrown on the ice. An officer has to witness the throw and nab the thrower on the spot, but it’s something they can and will enforce. Apparently, distance from players is not an issue: any octopus on the ice is grounds for ejection and a fine. I asked if it applied to hats thrown down for a hat trick and Officer Bullock pointed out it’d be much harder to enforce on hundreds/thousands of hats versus a few octopi.”– per Matt Saler (Matt Saler, who blogs on the Red Wings at On the Wings).

The NHL has tried to crack down on octopi tossing — first in 1997 with threats of 2-minute penalties for delay of game and then in 2008 with talk of a $10,000 fine for Wings Zamboni driver Al Sobotka twirling them on the ice.

The NHL VP of media relations, Frank Brown, commented about how the controversy is a “rite of spring,” and something that comes up in the first-round of the playoffs every April.

So does octopus gunk really pose a safety issue?

Perhaps the NHL needs to re-direct its energy towards more serious matters — like slamming an opponent’s head into the wall like what happened in the Sharks-Kings match.


Source: Yahoo! Sports

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