The tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice began on April 15, 1952, when Detroit brothers Jerry and Pete Cusimano tossed one of the slimy creatures onto the playing surface at Olympia Stadium. The Wings won the Stanley Cup that season, winning all eight games — the eight wins needed at that time to secure the trophy.
Throwing an octopus onto the ice may seem weird, but it’s remained a Detroit tradition for more than 60 years. At least the octopus was a symbol, while these other items to find their way onto an NHL ice rink have made far less sense.
Here are five strange objects fans actually have thrown on the ice during professional hockey games.
#1. Rats in Miami
There’s a grisly origin story to this one. Prior to their home opener of the 1995-96 season, Scott Mellanby of Florida killed a rat in the Panthers locker room. That night Mellanby went out and scored two goals, which prompted teammates and fans to pick up on the idea of the “rat trick.” By the time the Stanley Cup Playoffs were underway, Florida fans were tossing plastic rats on the ice after every goal by their Panthers. In the Cup Finals, the Panthers faced the Colorado Avalanche and their fans employed a unique strategy, tossing rat traps when the Avs scored a goal. The weird tradition lasted only one season as the NHL passed a rule penalizing home teams when their fans threw objects onto the ice. In 2012 some Panther fans revived plastic rat tossing when the team wom their first playoff game in 15 years.
#2. Hamburgers for the Goalie
In 2015 the goalie for the Ottawa Senators, Andrew Hammond, had the McDonald’s “Hamburglar” character painted on his mask. With that nickname in place, Ottawa fans began tossing hamburgers onto the ice when Hammond made big saves or finished of wins. On one occasion Hammond’s teammate Curtis Lazar took a bite out of one of the hamburgers.
#3. Detroit Beef Tossing
What is it about tossing weird objects onto the ice that seems to spark hockey teams to playoff success? In 2006 prior to a playoff series between the Oilers and Red Wings a disc jockey in Edmonton convinced fans to counter the Detroit octopus tradition by throwing something uniquely Canadian. At least uniquely from Alberta. In this case the object was prized Alberta Beef. Some Oilers fans smuggled the raw meat into Joe Louis Arena for Game Two and threw it onto the ice when Edmonton scored. The uncooked tradition worked — Edmonton defeated the Wings in six games and advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
#4. Teddy Bears in Calgary
The Calgary Hitmen are a major junior hockey team in Calgary, Alberta. A few years ago they actually encouraged their fans to throw objects onto the ice when they dispensed teddy bears to everyone in attendance. After the home team scored hundreds of the furry objects littered the ice.
#5. An Alarm Clock in Montreal
They take hockey seriously in Montreal and that means traditions are guarded closely. Montreal fans are famous for being ready to toss hats when a home player scores three games, but on one occasion a fan made a statement of a different nature. In the late 1950s when the Habs were in the midst of a losing stretch, a fan fired an alarm clock onto the ice, promoting a stoppage of play. Asked why he sent the clock onto the ice, the fan cracked “I figured it was time the team woke up.”