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A girl removes plastic victory rats from the ice following the Florida Panthers' win over the New Jersey Devils after their NHL Eastern conference quarterfinal playoff hockey Game 5 in Sunrise, Florida April 21, 2012. (RHONA WISE/REUTERS/Rhona Wise)
A girl removes plastic victory rats from the ice following the Florida Panthers' win over the New Jersey Devils after their NHL Eastern conference quarterfinal playoff hockey Game 5 in Sunrise, Florida April 21, 2012. (RHONA WISE/REUTERS/Rhona Wise)

Panthers in a rat spat with Devils fans Add to ...

How's this for money making scheme for a franchise hard up for cash?

The Florida Panthers allow their fans to toss rats on the ice during the playoffs, after charging $5 a piece for the plastic critters at the arena store. They then have game crews collect them in buckets, just in time to sell them back to their fans for the next game.

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Not a bad way to make a little extra off one of the franchise's few traditions.

Turns out this has hit a snag, however, as some fans began throwing the rats during play.

Here's Harvey Fialkov from the Sun-Sentinel: "The NHL has warned the Panthers that they will receive a delay of penalty call if it interferes with the flow of the game... The Devils players have expressed their annoyance with the flying furry rodents, especially when they hit the ice during play."

Panthers president Michael Yormark has taken to Twitter to talk about the team's rat problem of late, tweeting Saturday after they won Game 5 that "this has become a serious issue."

“I’m a little concerned about the rats in the middle of the game,” coach Kevin Dineen added. “I know there’s a lot of Devil fans throwing them out there trying to get us a delay of game penalty there. I hope that’s something we can hold until the end of the game.”

As a result of too many rats on the ice during the game, the team has now stopped selling them in the arena stores.

"Panthers will not sell rats at [the team store]pantherland," Yormark tweeted on Monday. "This is a result of visiting fans throwing rats on the ice during the game. Panthers will not tolerate any fan throwing items on the ice during our game. If seen, they will be ejected from the arena immediately."

Greg Wyshynski has more, including a look at the card they're not giving out to fans asking that they don't throw rats until after games.

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