Throughout NHL history, fans have shown their passion, frustration and support by throwing things on the ice. Whether a playoff tradition, display of vexation, or a winning superstition, fans have no limit of imagination when it comes to displaying their love of their favorite hockey team.
Number 5: Octopus
Detroit’s octopus throwing is a strange hockey tradition, but also the stuff of legend. The origins of the lore was started by brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano who owned a seafood store in eastern Detroit. They threw the octopus on the ice at the start of the 1952 playoffs because the legs represented the number of wins Detroit needed to win the Stanley Cup that year. The Wings went on to sweep the Maple Leafs and Canadiens in route to their fifth Stanley Cup and the tradition lived on during every playoff appearance since.
Number 4: Rats
After Scott Mellanby killed a rat before the Florida Panthers home opener in 1995, he scored two goals that game and teammate John Vanbiesbrouck called it a “rat trick” during a postgame interview. Little plastic rats would be thrown onto the ice after wins that season and the Panthers made unlikely journey to the playoffs and made it all the way to the Cup Final. During the Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche fans threw thousands of rats on the ice after the teams first goal of the game, though the luck ran out as the Panthers got swept by the Avs. The NHL changed the rules during the 1996 offseason that penalized home teams if fans threw objects onto the ice because of the time it took to clean the ice surface.
Number 3: Hamburgers
One of the bigger heartwarming stories in recent memory is the incredible tale of former Senators goalie Andrew Hammond. Hammond earned the nickname “Hamburglar” after an amazing stretch of games where he went 20-1-2 during the 2014-15 season and the Senators stole a playoff spot because of it. As the streak grew fans started to throw hamburgers on the ice to show their support for their beloved goaltender. Though Hammond never ate one, teammate Curtis Lazar did after a win against the Bruins. He would later receive free McDonald’s for life when his college coach’s father, who owned a string of restaurants throughout the Ottawa and Toronto area, was alerted to the magical run Hammond was on.
Number 2: Shark
San Jose Sharks fans had their own tradition during the 2007 playoffs. During game four of their series with Detroit, a Sharks fan managed to sneak in and throw a four-foot leopard shark onto the ice. A few years later these teams would meet in the 2010 semifinals and another shark was thrown onto the ice, this time it had an octopus sewn into its mouth. Message received. The Sharks won the series in five games.
Number 1: Stink bomb
Here’s something that certainly wouldn’t go over well in 2022. During game against the Devils early in the 2008-09 season, an unknown device was thrown onto the ice after Martin Brodeur robbed Mike Richards with a big save at the goal line. The device then began smoking in front of the Devils bench before Richards picked it up and threw it by the Flyers tunnel. The game was stalled for multiple minutes as the smoke dissipated. The fan was thrown out and the game continued and the Flyers won 3-2 in overtime. If you want a refresher, here is the clip:
This one isn’t necessarily strange, but it is relevant since the Flyers have seen quite a few fall to the ice over the last few years. Toronto famously made this a thing during their miserable 2014 season. Dubbed “jersey-gate” when multiple jerseys were thrown that year, fans were handed a one-year ban from the Air Canada Centre. Other fanbases including the Oilers, Flames, Flyers, and Senators have followed suit over the years to voice their displeasure of their team.
It wouldn’t be a list without including the Flyers bracelet incident of the 2016 playoffs. After falling 2-0 in the series, Flyers fans were disgruntled. After losing game three 6-1 fans threw the bracelets they were given for a pregame tribute to the late Ed Snider on to the ice. “Have some class” Lou Nolan yelled before “two minute bench minor. Way to go”. This was no doubt a blemish on the Flyers as it made national news over the next few days, but after getting shellacked, the frustration was understandable.
Predators fans are typically known for throwing catfish on the ice, but they changed their rituals up when taking on the Anaheim Ducks. The original incident happened during a December 2011 clash when a dead duck was thrown onto the ice. Though the Preds went on to lose the game 3-2. It seemed to be a one-time thing until Nashville hosted the Ducks in the 2017 Western Conference Finals when another duck would hit the ice, this time plucked clean of feathers, and the Predators were able to pull out a 3-2 victory.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
Photo credit: espn.com