23 April, 2014

A Tradition That Ought To Lose Its Legs

I’m octpoi-ed out. Have had it with those Motor City slimers and the slime tosses of them. They wash up on our frozen shores whenever the Wings make a nice run, and sometimes before, and it’s an outdated tradition that is best retired.

They’re about the ugliest of sea creatures, and they’ve taken hold of postseason hockey — moreso this year than in any preceding. Thousands of tentacles, real and representative, are hanging from puckhead heads in the Midwest. I want our seas over-fished of them, their numbers imperiled, and the relevant government agency to enforce a ban on them in Detroit.

All we need is some pseudo study suggesting their numbers are diminishing, and our hyper-protective preservation instincts will halt the on-ice hurling. Better still, let’s have a single young girl suffer a bruise about her cheek from a mis-tossed cephalopod and the NHL will install Octo-detetctors at every portal.

Beginning next season, I’d like Wings’ fans to begin wearing hubcaps on their heads, as a demonstration of their renewed commitment to making a good domestic car again. They’re overdue on that endeavor by about 30 years. So less slimy, grotesque-looking fish and more reliable revving in MoTown. That would be a nice tradition that would never grow outdated.

I confess that back in the day, the octopus’ appearance was fresh and inventive. The beast first appeared on frozen pond in 1952, during the playoffs. In those Original Six days, a mere eight postseason wins were required to win Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the cephalopod was a nifty and novel representation of this. Today, though, we see eight legs hanging from embarrassing looking ballcaps in the first round.

Look at “Octopus Etiquette” in hockey as rendered at Wikipedia:

” . . . an octopus should be boiled for at least 20 minutes on high heat with a little lemon juice and white wine. This will mask the creature’s odor as well as reducing the amount of slime. A raw dead thrown octopus would result in a smelly ball that would stick to the ice upon impact and possibly leave an inky stain, while a well-boiled octopus will bounce and roll across the surface of the ice.”

Where’s PETA?

A decade-plus back, the Florida Panthers adopted a locker room rat as a sort of rally rat. The story goes that on opening night in ’95-’96, a long-tailed critter scurried across the ‘Cats’ locker room, and Scott Mellanby actually one-timed the intruder against a wall, to its death. He went on to score two goals that night, and a tradition was born. Cats’ fans got into the act during the team’s unlikely run to the Stanley Cup Finals, hurling plastic rats onto the ice after home team goals throughout the postseason.

At one point during the ’96 postseason, Sunrise staff had to sweep up more than 2,000 rubber rats off the ice. (Would that they were dispensed upon Verizon Center’s sheet for Game 7 last month, thereby improving it.)

It was novel and mildly amusing for about three weeks. And to their credit, perhaps because it was enforced with vigor, Panthers’ fans halted the hijinx. It also helped that virtually immediately after that postseason the ‘Cats perpetually fell out of postseason contention.

But this octopus gig, it’s got a staying power, and it’s beyond well worn now — to say nothing of its outdatedness and inaccuracy. Wings’ fans need a representative of 16 significant moments. Like an Elizabeth Taylor wedding invitation.

As OrderedChaos pointed out, “Did you notice that someone threw an octopus on the ice when the Wings scored their second goal to tie it at 2-2 in game 5? Talk about premature octopulation.” This practice is so Vanilla Ice now.

Euthanizing the octopus will be no easy endeavor, as ridding the ice of the literal eight-leggers means killing off the figurative one — Al the Octopus. But we euthanized the San Diego Chicken, and he was a heck of a lot more popular.


  1. pepper wrote:

    I’ll never forget that (original, Japanese) Iron Chef episode where the “secret ingredient” was a tank full of octopi. How the creatures grabbed the edges of the boiling pot to escape. That was something.
    I liked the tradition, but I agree, its become far too mainstream now.

    5 June, 2008 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  2. Schultz for Norris wrote:

    What? Do you hate Mom and apple pie, too? Do you hate freedom? Well, that’s what the people in Detroit would say. The tossing of octopi on the rink is part of Detroit hockey. You don’t like it because Ovechkin has shaved 5 strokes off his handicap already this summer.
    But, if you really want to stop it, then the league needs to call a 2 minute penalty on the wings (when at home, harder to do on the road), when it happens. Or, get the league to demand that Octopi tosses will be banned-forever- from the Joe. That will curtail the practice quickly.
    With the exception of hats, the throwing of things onto the ice is completely unaccpetable and should be dealt with by the buildings, or failing that, the league.

    5 June, 2008 at 3:26 pm | Permalink
  3. The Mule wrote:

    As a Red Wings fan my response is that if you don’t like octopi being thrown on the ice, the solution is to prevent us from being in the playoffs in the first place. However, I do see your point.

    5 June, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  4. margaret wrote:

    what the heck? its a tradition, you can’t mess with it. what are you gonna say next, that you want all players to be clean shaven during the playoffs??
    seriously, that’s stupid.

    6 June, 2008 at 9:17 am | Permalink
  5. JonnyP wrote:

    “Tradition” is something that comes from everyone else doing something before you.
    I hate it when people hide behind “tradition” in order to do something that would otherwise not be allowed. Although, I do like The Mule’s response … :)

    6 June, 2008 at 12:43 pm | Permalink
  6. Jimmy Jazz wrote:

    I dislike the Wings as much as the next guy, but it’s not for fans of other squads to decide what is/isn’t appropriate as a tradition. It’s something that’s gone on for decades, and players have yet to “blow out knees, or break their necks” because of it. Team traditions honor the past, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Bettman’s attempt to eradicate the swinging/tossing was infuriating, and the fact that a respectable Hockey blog like OFB sympathizes with him is a laughable.

    7 June, 2008 at 3:13 am | Permalink
  7. stevis wrote:

    As a Wings fan in DC, I’ll remember not to throw an octopus at the Verizon Center while geographically confused people desecrate the National Anthem by screaming “O.”

    7 June, 2008 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  8. Gustafsson wrote:

    If you’ve read this blog long enough, you’ll know that we are opposed to the “O” as well.



    7 June, 2008 at 1:49 pm | Permalink
  9. 28 September, 2008 at 11:33 pm | Permalink