Some of you may know this about hockey and the National Hockey League in particular, but the teams and the fans are quite peculiar. I myself am one of those people if you hadn’t guessed: a multiple time Hockey Hall of Fame visitor, I watch many games during the season , I love the post-season, I play the video games and I root heavily for my teams (even my minor league team, Hi Tux!).
But one of the cool perks about being a hockey fan is that you get to be a part of some really cool traditions that have stood for many years. There’s the national anthem before the game where people walk out on those cheesy mats and sing while the scoreboard displays an 8 bit American flag. Or maybe even similar to Slap Shot where you hear some guy in a hair piece banging away at an organ up in the rafters (although these days computers are replacing those). You could grab a seat down by the ice and watch the zamboni come through in between periods and the have a former Stanley Cup winner give you the evil eye through the glass because you are cheering for the other team. I mean there’s what six inches of plastic glass in between them and me and he’s sneering at me before a face off? Meanwhile the puck gets dropped, won and fired back around the boards and all you hear is this sizzle as it goes by you. What the hell? Seriously? Some guys don’t want to wear visors? Aww hell naw. That’s my face.
Beyond all the nasty guys and busted lips there’s the stuff that happens in certain places when the home team scores or wins. There’s always the famous hat-trick celebration too you know? Nothing like throwing your lid on the ice, woo hoo I have to go buy another!
Maybe you’ve seen that giant octopus in Detroit and wonder just what in the hell that means? Where did that come from? Ironically it’s 63 years ago, in 1952, the brothers Cusinano, Pete and Jerry brought an octopus because during that time it was two best of 7 series to win to take home the Stanley Cup (8wins-8tentacles). Wouldn’t you know it they won? Since then they’ve opened Joe Louis Arena and seen many different occasions where people have bombarded the ice with this aquatic delight.
Because there are some people who can’t escape fighting with a rival about every detail, the Nashville Predators decided that they would start their own fishy marine tradition. Instead of octopus they toss catfish because you know it’s much more plentiful in Tennessee than octopus. Whether it’s truly something that I’d want to sneak into an arena under my clothing is a different story. I’m not looking to smell like catfish all night but thanks.
In 1996 the Florida Panthers came into their third year with veteran Scott Melanby as captain making a mark on history by taking out a rat before the start of the first home game with his twig. He went on to score two goals and the team won 4-3. Afterward goalie John Vanbiesbrouck said that even though he missed a hat trick he scored a “rat trick.” From there a tradition was born, seeing as it was also the Chinese year of the rat, it felt like this all was written in the stars. After every Panthers goal plastic rats went flying all over. There were rats all over and somehow all this rat business propelled the team I their third year (I know I said it already but it’s the third year!) to the Stanley Cup finals. The Panthers were denied a larger shot at destiny by the dream killer himself, Patrick Roy, and the Colorado Avalanche who hoisted the Cup for themselves. So much for the year of the rat, although he did always have weird teeth (but damn was he the best goalie).
Then there’s this gem from the Toronto police in January of 2015: