Bizarre Sports Fan Traditions
Sometimes hockey fans will do the strangest things after their team's victory or defeat. Here's a look at some of the bizarre rituals of wild and rabid hockey fans.
Octopus On Ice
For nearly 50 years, hockey fans in Detroit have been throwing octopi on to the ice after a big win by the Red Wings. This started on April 15, 1952 during the Red Wings' Stanley Cup run. Two brothers, Pete and Jerry Cusimano, who owned a fish shop in Detroit threw an octopus on the ice during a game in Detroit. Each tentacle of the octopus was symbolic of a win in the playoffs. Back then, the NHL had just six teams and eight wins (two best-of-seven series) were needed to win the Stanley Cup. The largest octopus to be thrown on the ice was a 50 pounder in 1996. The creature was proundly displayed on the hood of the Zamboni while the ice at the Joe Louis Arena was being cleaned between periods.
Rats on Ice
In 1996, Florida Panthers' winger, Scott Mellanby, was getting ready for a game when a large rat ran through the dressing room. Scott jabbed the rat with his hockey stick and killed it - then scored two goals in the game. After that, Florida Panthers' fans started throwing rats (plastic, not live) on the ice whenever the team scored a big goal. During the team's run to the Stanley Cup finals, the ice would be completely covered with rats every time Florida scored. Opposition goalies had to hide in the net to prevent themselves from getting hit with rats. The NHL banned the tradition after the 1996 season because games were being delayed for so long.
Hats on Ice
If you've ever seen hockey fans throw hats on the ice - it's not because their favorite player needs some new head wear or is going bald. It's to celebrate a player scoring three goals in a game which is called a hat trick. The term comes from the game of cricket (a lame form of baseball played in England.) In 1858, a player knocked down three wickets in a row. This feat was considered so great that the team gave the player a brand new hat - big whoop! The fastest hat trick in NHL history was scored by Bill Mosienko of the Chicago Blackhawks who potted three goals in just 21 seconds in 1952. A "natural hat trick" is when a player scores three goals in a row - with no goals by the other team in between. The player who scores the three goals doesn't keep the hats. They're given to charity instead (for all those hatless kids!)
In 1982, the Vancouver Canucks were playing the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals. During the second game, the refereeing was absolutely horrible. The ref called nine penalties against the Canucks and disallowed one of the team's goals. To protest the ref's poor eyesight, the Canucks' coach, Roger Neilson, waved a towel on the end of a hockey stick to signal surrender. When the Canucks returned to Vancouver for their next game, thousands of fans waved white towels - as a tribute to Roger's protest. The tradition became known as Towel Power and is now used by sports fans all over North America.
Is there a sports tradition you'd like to know more about? Do you have your own sports tradition you'd like to share with Kidzworld? to let us know.