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NHL Cracking Down on Red Wings Octopus Toss Tradition

The MLB would never stop Boston Red Sox fans from singing Sweet Caroline in the 7th inning at Fenway Park. The NFL would never ask New York Jets fans to stop the” J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets!” chant during the opening kickoff at New Meadowlands Stadium. The UConn athletic department can ask their students to stop chanting “sucks!” after every opposing player’s and coach’s name is announced at basketball games, but they won’t have any luck. Why, then, has the NHL asked Detroit to put a stop to the nearly 50-year-old tradition of the octopus toss at Detroit Red Wings home playoff games?

On Friday, Puck Daddy recapped the madness that has taken place in Detroit over the past few days, which began with Deadspin’s account of a Red Wings fan being encouraged to throw an octopus onto the ice by arena personnel during Game 1 and ending up ejected from the game and fined $500 by Detroit police.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the tradition and weren’t reading LBS back in 2007 when we explained it, the throwing of the octopus started in 1952. It’s eight legs signifying the eight wins a team needed to claim the Stanley Cup at that time.  Some opposition to the practice has been seen as recently as 2008, with the NHL threatening to fine the Red Wings $10,000 if an employee threw an octopus on the ice because of the “gunk” that flies off of it.

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Yes, That’s an Octopus on the Ice

For the second time in a matter of days, I was asked by someone with whom I was watching the Ducks/Red Wings series, “what’s that on the ice?” At that point it hit me — many people don’t realize the tradition of fans throwing an octopus on the ice after a goal, or towards the end of a game (yes, it’s a dead one). When I was also asked why it was done, I had no answer — outside of saying it’s tradition. But I did some searching, and I found out why fans throw an octopus on the ice.

The Motor City’s proud tradition of saluting the Detroit Red Wings with slimy creatures of the deep dates back half a century.

The first octopus landed on the ice during the Red Wings’ 1952 Stanley Cup run, courtesy of a couple of lads from a local fish shop. If you know your cephalopods, you will know that an octopus has eight tentacles. In those days it took eight playoff wins to claim the Cup, hence the supposed symbolism of the gesture.

Well there you go! You learn something new every day. And I also know something else, I’m not the type who would walk into an arena and sit through two hours of hockey with a dead octopus under my shirt. I’m not exactly the guy who’s first in on the beer bong, and I wasn’t the type back in college to drop an olive in a martini glass with my ass cheeks, if you catch my drift.