The tradition of tossing octopi on the ice.
Matt Saler of the blog On the Wings reports the NHL has asked Detroit to enforce a city ordinance, which apparently caused one fan to be ejected from Wednesday’s Game 1 and put him on the hook for a $500 fine:
"Officer Bullock informed me that the enforcement of Municipal Code 38-5-4 is at the request of the NHL. Evidently, police supervisors were informed Wednesday night, either before or during the game, by League representatives that they don’t want anything thrown on the ice. An officer has to witness the throw and nab the thrower on the spot, but it’s something they can and will enforce. Apparently, distance from players is not an issue: any octopus on the ice is grounds for ejection and a fine."
The interesting part is that the Wings are not the ones asking for it. According to Officer Bullock, they’re fine with the tradition, and even like it. And I gather the police aren’t big fans of enforcing it either. It’s up to the officer’s discretion, so it’s possible fans may still get away with it at times. But with NHL officials pushing for it, it’s less safe to throw than it ever has been. Previously, it may have been a bit of an empty threat. Now it has teeth.
According to Yahoo! hockey blog Puck Daddy , NHL spokesman Frank Brown wouldn’t confirm that the league is asking for police to enforce the city code:
"I don't believe it's anything new, but I'm waiting to hear back from our security. It's a safety issue. You throw stuff on the ice, people get their skates caught in it, they fall down and hurt themselves. It's wrong. That's a problem," said Brown, in a phone interview this afternoon.
The NHL then sent out this statement:
"NHL security did not direct that this person be arrested or ejected. We do have a prohibition against throwing things to the ice surface since this may cause a delay in game or injury to players or others working on the ice surface."
This eight-legged controversy began to swirl when Deadspin reported an account from the fan who allegedly was the target of police:
All of a sudden, a guy from there said, "You're going to jail. Come with me." Granted, not a thing happened to the prior folks, or any other game. I went down and was charged. Really, it's AN octopus in Detroit in a hockey game! They kick me out, fined me $500 and I have to go to court. I paid $150 for my ticket [but] now will pay $500 more. That's $217 a period.
Although the tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice dates back to 1952, opponents have complained for years that chunks of the sea creature are often left on the surface. That could create a safety concern, although there have been no reports of that any player was injured because of it. The Red Wings were threatened with a $10,000 fine three years ago if famed Zamboni driver Al Sobotka swung any octopi he picked up off the ice.
-- A.J. Perez