Octopus Detroit Red Wings Tradition
The Red Wings' tradition of throwing the Octopus into the Ice began in 1952 when teams needed to nab 8 playoff wins to win the Stanley Cup.
During the 1952 playoffs, the Red Wings were playing the Montreal Canadiens. During the 3rd game of the series, brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano threw an Octopus into the rink of the Olympia Stadium.
The Wings actually went on to sweep the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs to win the 1952 Stanley Cup and the tradition has stuck since then.
At the time it began, teams needed to win 8 playoff games before they could hold the Holy Grail of Hockey coveted by many in their hands.
The octopus with its 8 limbs was the perfect way to symbolize that fact. It is still continued on to this date despite numerous attempts from the NHL to put a stop to it.
The number of playoff games needed to win the Stanley Cup is now 16 games. But that matter can be addressed just by throwing 2 octopuses and what matters more is the tradition and the symbolism behind the octopus for the fans.
The mascot of the Red Wings "Al the Octopus" is based on the legend of the octopus. The mascot was in fact named after Al Sobotka, the man responsible for picking up the Octopus thrown by fans and he twirled the octopus above his head after picking it up.
National Hockey League tried to ban the twirling completely in 2008 but loosened regulations after the backlash from fans for the regulation dubbed as "Octopus-gate" by the press.
The legend of the Octopus has been the inspiration for many events that occurred in NHL history some of which are as follows.
- New Jersey Devils fans threw lobsters, dead fish, and other objects onto the ice in the third game of the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals.
- Nashville Predators fans threw catfish on 26 January 1999 in the game against the Wings and that tradition has continued since then.
- San Jose Sharks fans threw a 3-foot leopard shark onto the ice during their 4th game of the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals against the Red Wings.
- The Pittsburgh seafood wholesalers refused to sell individuals from Michigan during the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals between the Penguins and the Wings.
- The San Jose Sharks fans threw a small shark again in 2010 in the playoffs against the Wings.
- A Nashville Predator fan threw a skinned duck on the ice at the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs between the Predators and the Anaheim Ducks.