The Joe Louis Arena playoff tradition of tossing an octopus on the ice appears to be in jeopardy.
After one Detroit Red Wings fan told Deadspin that he was given a $500 fine for chucking a cephalopod on the ice during Game 1 on Wednesday, the team released a statement this morning which confirms the act is being targeted by the NHL:
"The throwing of objects onto the ice surface is prohibited by the National Hockey League and persons caught doing so may be subject to prosecution for violating local and state laws.''
I'm waiting to hear back from the NHL on this, but talking to people in Detroit, the sense is that this isn't something the organization is pushing for. The team has, after all, generally supported the tradition since 1952 and continues to have a blurb about it on their website.
Matt Saler, who blogs at On The Wings, spoke with Detroit police today about the issue:
"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."
Saler goes on to say that "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."
He is calling for fans to contact the mayor's office to complain about the situation.
Red Wings netminer Chris Osgood, meanwhile, was rather out spoken talking to CBS Detroit about the ban today.
"For the police to get involved seems a little ridiculous," Osgood said. "I'm not seeing where the harm or foul is ... To me that's a tradition. They have certain traditions in other sports and to start doing that is rather tacky I think.
"Do they want everybody to come to the rink and sit on their hands and not doing anything? People are taking it a little bit too seriously."
I'll update if I hear from the league on this decision.
UPDATE Asked if the NHL was behind the fines, league spokesman Frank Brown provided the following statement late this afternoon:
"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."
With no exceptions, apparently.