The Legend Behind the Octopus Throwing Madness

Al Sobotka

As a Chicago Blackhawks’ fan I have grown up with the “Detroit Sucks” chant ingrained in my brain. When it comes time for the Stanley Cup playoffs, it doesn’t get much more intense than a Western Conference showdown between the Blackhawks and their rivaled Detroit Red Wings. While I’ve been watching the second round series this year, I couldn’t help getting a little grossed out as the ice crews clean up nasty squids from off the ice.

I was curious as to why Red Wings fans think it’s okay to throw sea creatures onto the ice during a hockey game. My curiosity led to some research and thankfully for the people of Michigan they have a decent story supporting their Octopus tossing.

ice girl squid“The Legend of the Octopus” is a tradition during Red Wings playoff games where fans chuck octopuses onto the ice. The activity dates back to the 1952 playoffs, when the National Hockey League had two best-of-seven series to win the Stanley Cup. The octopus, having eight arms, symbolized the number of playoff wins necessary to capture Lord Stanley’s cup. The magical practice started April 15, 1952 when Pete and Jerry Cusimano, Detroit brothers and storeowners, hurled an octopus onto the rink of The Old Red Barn. The ’52 Red Wings swept the Toronto Maple Leafs and then the Montreal Canadiens en route to winning the cup and BOOM throwing around live octopuses became acceptable in the Motor City. Apparently in 1995 a fan threw a 38 pound monster onto the ice (gross). To add to the octopus love, the Red Wings’ unofficial mascot is a purple Octopus named Al.

While the tradition is unique, I wouldn’t be caught dead carrying around a live eight-legged sea creature. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for security checking bags at the games.  Are they limited as to how MANY octopuses they allow through the gates?

Hopefully the Hawks can clinch the series in Game 7 tomorrow and hockey fans won’t have to see any more squids on the ice this year.

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