Sunday, April 20, 2008

The End of the Octopus

Just a little tidbit from Joe Louis Arena: The NHL has decided octopus twirling doesn't fit in with league image, or something to that effect.

The Wings have been told by the league that if Al Sobotka (or anyone else) twirls the octopus that's thrown onto the ice before playoff games, it'll cost the team $10,000.
George Malik has a good roundup of all things octopus twirl.

The NHL has very few distinct traditions like the Motown mollusk toss, so it's unfortunate to see an attempt at ending this one. Here's hoping they're out in full force should the series head back to Detroit for Game 7 on Tuesday.

Go dressed as an octopus and go to town.

From Wikipedia:
The 1952 playoffs featured the start of the tradition—the octopus throw. The owner of a local fish market, Peter Cusimano, threw one from the stands onto the ice. The eight legs were purportedly symbolic of the eight wins it took to win the Stanley Cup at the time. The Red Wings went on to sweep both of their opponents that year en route to a Stanley Cup championship. The NHL has, at various times, tried to eliminate this tradition but it continues to this day.
Tom Benjamin has more, including his thoughts that maybe the team arranges for the creatures to get tossed.

I guess he hasn't read the 'octopus etiquette' section of above Wikipedia entry.

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At 1:56 p.m., April 20, 2008, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

Are they taking cues from the No Fun League? I can understand not wanting to delay the game by having one thrown onto the ice after a goal, but before the game?

Scratch that. The refs already bring the game to a halt reviewing every goal, so why not throw an octopus?

At 2:23 p.m., April 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe this is real. Isn't this just the Detroit Free Press getting Wings fans revved up?

At 3:12 p.m., April 20, 2008, Blogger Nick said...

Well, pre-game octopus twirls wouldn't be seen on NBC anyway because despite the fact that they were scheduled to broadcast the game at 3:00ET, they're currently playing GOLF INSTEAD. WTF. DOES GOLF GO INTO OVERTIME?

I didn't miss a game this season with my center ice package, but I'm missing chunks of games left and right because of crappy scheduling. This sucks. I've got like 900 channels, can't they find somewhere to put the game?

At 3:31 p.m., April 20, 2008, Anonymous David Johnson said...

This is one of the great traditions in all of sport and it is a shame to see the NHL try and shut it down. Unlike some other 'traditions' (like the rat toss in Florida) this one has not gotten out of hand. And this at a time when the Red Wings are starting to see a hint of diminished fan support (at least in terms of attendance) because of economic and other factors. I really hope Wings fans shun this attempt and I'd love to see 500 octopus toss on the ice next game as an act of defiance.

At 3:55 p.m., April 20, 2008, Blogger Nick said...

They should place tip jars throughout the arena to help pay the fine... Hell, the organization should pay the fine once a game during the playoffs in an act of defiance.

At 7:08 p.m., April 20, 2008, Anonymous cupster33 said...

What some folks refuse to understand is (one dead) octipie can ruin an opposing teams momentum. I think the league is trying to avoid that situation it wouldn't be fair to visiting teams that a break can simply be called by a fan with a dead critter in a bag.

At 9:25 p.m., April 20, 2008, Blogger Nick said...

It sounds like you are refusing to understand that this has nothing to do with octopuses being thrown on the ice and everything to do with them being twirled over a zamboni driver's head.

At 10:40 p.m., April 20, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

It was the Florida rat tossing, IIRC, that brought about the clampdown on octopi. Until fans in Miami started repeatedly delaying games with showers of toy rodents the octopus was simply a Detroit tradition (although it occasionally got out of hand there too - three in a game is a bit much). Clamping down on fan litter in one city but not another would have been unfair, I guess.

We'd probably lose hat tricks, too, if they weren't so rare.

At 5:38 a.m., April 21, 2008, Anonymous George Malik said...

Thanks for the plug, James...and what we are in Detroit is, more or less, stunned. Al Sobotka can't even go on the ice to pick an octopus up, much less twirl one, or he's docked $10,000. It's bizarre that the NHL would turn on its catfish-sized tail 180 degrees about this tradition after one complaint from a GM who I'm pretty sure was David Poile, and even when Al doesn't twirl 'em, just having him come out would get the crowd wound up--which is why his presence has been deemed illegal.

Something stinks here, and it isn't the boiled cephalopod.

At 9:16 a.m., April 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would hope that the Wings in turn fine the NHL for copyright infringement each time they use the octopus toss in their promotions.

At 9:52 a.m., April 21, 2008, Anonymous snafu said...

I had to snicker last night when VERSUS showed an octopus on the ice in one of its playoff commercials...

(Thanks for picking up the story, James.)

At 11:39 a.m., April 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does an "octopie(sic)" come with a graham cracker crust?

At 2:07 p.m., April 21, 2008, Blogger YzermanZetterberg said...

Score another one for the "twitocracy" that runs the NHL.

My initial thought was that Detroit area fish markets should donate one octopus for each Wings fan to throw at the next home game (

Now, after having a little time to cool off, I've reconsidered. If and when an octopus hits the ice, the Red Wings should run a video of "Al Sobotka's Greatest Twirls" on the scoreboard. They should also run this video immediately after each Red Wings goal.

Oh and if Messrs. Bettman, Campbell, Poile, et al are really worried about traditions that get the home team's fans involved and/or excited, they really should look into those irritating "Tootoo whistles" in Nashville. And, while they're at they still play Kate Smith singing "God Bless America" in Philly? Sorry, that's got to go, too. (Oh wait, David Poile and Ed Snider are two of Gary's favorite lap dogs, so we won't be seeing those amendments to the rules anytime soon.)

If they're looking to remove unfair advantage for teams that actually have a winning tradition, perhaps all teams should be instructed to pull down their banners for Stanley Cup, Conference, and Divisional Championships...and don't forget the retired jerseys, too. While we're at it, let's play all games on neutral sites.


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