Squid: A Hockey Tradition

Silly traditions are going to exist with anything, so why not throw a squid or octopus?

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If you are a hockey fan, you have probably seen or heard of fans throwing squid or an octopus on the ice prior to a Detroit Redwings game. That has been the tradition for over fifty years. Have you ever wondered why these fans do this or how it got started as a strange pre-game tradition?

The octopus first made its appearance at a hockey game on April 15, 1952 during the Redwings’ Stanley Cup playoff run. Back then, there were only six NHL teams and to win the Stanley Cup required eight playoff victories (two best of seven series). Two brothers, Pete and Jerry Cusimano, who are the owners of a Detroit fish shop, threw the octopus onto the ice at the Olympia Stadium. The eight tentacles of the octopus were supposed to be symbolic of the eight wins that are needed to win the cup. The Red Wings won the series that year, and the squid or octopus has become the tradition ever since. The largest octopus ever to be thrown on the ice weighed fifty pounds! It was proudly displayed on the hood of the Zamboni while the ice was being cleaned in between periods.

Now there are thirty teams in the NHL and it takes sixteen victories to win the Stanley Cup. The crazy tradition still lives on, and probably will from now on, even though you could be thrown out of the game. The throwing of any object onto the ice in any arena is always prohibited. The risk of being thrown out for throwing squid or an octopus is much lower at the Joe Louis Arena, where the behavior is expected and unofficially encouraged. Like anything else, there are rules to follow when throwing the octopus! It should be boiled prior to the game to prevent it from sticking to the ice. Never throw it onto the ice while the game is being played. The appropriate time to throw a squid or octopus is directly following the singing of the National Anthem, after the Red Wings score a goal, or at the conclusion of the game.

So if you plan on attending a Detroit Red Wings game, do not be surprised to see flying octopus! Do not be alarmed if the arena smells like seafood, it is just the diehard fans showing their support!

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4 Comments
  1. Red Gold
    Posted June 1, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    This is a great hockey tradition. I had no idea the largest octopus ever thrown was 50 lbs. and that it must be boiled! Great information!

  2. Posted June 3, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I was wondering why the octopus was so important. How about the beard? What’s up with that?

  3. linda
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    great article! i didn’t know about the boiling it so it didn’t stick to the ice! i love reading any hockey related article, this great sport doesn’t get the respect and recognition it deserves! & yes what is the story behind the facial hair???

  4. Aimee
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I love this tradition. It is one of the coolest I have ever seen.

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