The Legend of the Octopus
is a sports tradition during Detroit Red Wings
home playoff games involving dead octopuses
thrown onto the ice rink
. The origins of the activity go back to the 1952 playoffs
, when a National Hockey League
team played two best-of-seven series to capture the Stanley Cup
. Having eight arms, the octopus symbolized the number of playoff wins necessary for the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup. The practice started April 15, 1952, when Pete and Jerry Cusimano, brothers and storeowners in Detroit's Eastern Market
, hurled an octopus into the rink of The Old Red Barn
. The team swept the Toronto Maple Leafs
and Montreal Canadiens
en route to winning the championship.
Since 1952, the practice has persisted with each passing year. In one 1995 game, fans threw 36 octopuses, including a specimen weighing 38 pounds. The Red Wings' unofficial mascot is a purple octopus named
Al, and during playoff runs, two of these mascots were also hung from the rafters of
Joe Louis Arena, symbolizing the 16 wins now needed to take home the Stanley Cup.
Thepractice has become such an accepted part of the team's lore, fans have developed various techniques and "octopus etiquette" for launching the creatures onto the ice. At the last Red Wings home game at the now-demolished Joe Louis Arena
, 35 octopuses were thrown onto the ice.
Here are pictures with Don having a once living octopus, to keep the tradition going. But soon graduated to have a stuff one on the recommendations of Mr. Bettman (an animal lovers, knowing what intelligent creatures these are). Of course, Ron always ended up with all the slime on his pants and shoes at the end.