The Detroit Red Wings' road to the Stanley Cup wasn't without some adversity. A goalie change from Dominik Hasek to Chris Osgood. Injuries to key players like Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen during the playoffs. Cries of obstruction from nearly every opponent. And, of course, the heartbreaking loss of one of Detroit sports' greatest traditions: Twirling a dead octopus on the Joe Louis Arena ice.
OK, it wasn't a total loss. Zamboni driver Al Sobotka could still twirl the octopus near the ice, leading Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to defend himself in Game 5. But the fact is that the entire tradition of Red Wings fans and their airborne octopi has been scrutinized more this postseason than any time before. Scrutiny which continues even after the Wings have captured the Cup.
Pucks and Books at On Frozen Blog believes that octopus tossing is an "outdated tradition" whose time is at an end:
This octopus gig, it's got a staying power, and it's beyond well worn now - to say nothing of its outdatedness and inaccuracy. Wings' fans need a representative of 16 significant moments. Like an Elizabeth Taylor wedding invitation.
As OrderedChaos pointed out, "Did you notice that someone threw an octopus on the ice when the Wings scored their second goal to tie it at 2-2 in game 5? Talk about premature octopulation." This practice is so Vanilla Ice now.
There are those fans who believe that octo-tossing is blasé. Then there's Patrick Greene of San Antonio (scroll down to Quick Hits), who so vehemently opposes it that he's threatened to sue the Red Wings, the NHL and the city of Detroit to stop fans from throwing an octopus on the ice.
Here's the sad truth: Puck Daddy actually motivated Greene's determination to end this grand hockey tradition once and for all.
The World of Isaac discovered an interview between Greene and Sean Baligian of WDFN in Detroit in which Greene says that he hasn't followed sports his entire life, but he was on his computer and saw "a story on Yahoo! that talked about the NHL's new policy ... that the gentleman doing the Zamboni machine could not get off and twirl the octopus or he'd be fined $10,000."
The timing fits with our publication of "Why the Octopus still won't twirl in Detroit," which was featured on the front page of Yahoo.com and received close to 2,800 comments.
So it's all our fault. Sigh ...
Here's a clip from the interview, where he talks about the inspiration and the meaning behind his desire to sue everyone until octopus tossing at hockey games is outlawed:
The full interview can be downloaded over on WDFN's Web site, and it's a hell of a listen. "Why a dead animal for a good luck charm?" he asks, wondering if Red Wings fans would have thrown a dead cat or a dead dog if it only took four wins to take the Stanley Cup back when the tradition started. He also compares his struggle to protect the sanctity of dead seafood to the political movements for women's suffrage and gay marriage. We wish we had the satiric talent to be making any of this up ...
The World of Isaac also has text from what it says is a letter Greene sent to the Red Wings:
As a citizen of the United States, I consider the octopus tradition as a sign of degenerate minds. It is disgusting and turns my stomache.
The natural environment of the octopus is the ocean. The reason for its capture by fishermen is for human consumption only, not human playtime. To use the body of an octopus in such a manner is to devalue the animal kingdom. If the National Hockey League's policy was to win only 4 games, would fans toss the bodies of dogs and cats on the ice, since they only have four legs?
An animal is an animal. Noone owns the ocean. Noone owns the octopus.
It is every persons responsibility to protect animals who are being shown extreme disrespect.
It is my intention, if the Animal Control Division fails to send me a written promise to begin voluntarily to vigorously enforce the Detroit City Code, to file a lawsuit against them. My intention is to have a court issue an order to force the Animal Control Division to do its job.
We take no pride in the fact that our coverage of the NHL's war on octopi set off some nimrod; one that makes PETA look like McDonald's by comparison. It reminds us of idiots who are inspired to new heights of absurdity by good-natured entertainment; some dolt who sees a movie and then tries to fly like Iron Man or attempts to engage a panda in a kung-fu fight at the zoo.
If anything, this continued war on one of the greatest traditions in sports makes us rather upset. It's a dead octopus. Things could be worse. A dead horse would be worse. Live scorpions would be worse. A bag of rabid weasels would be worse. Hell, an open box of candy-coated raspberry Nerds would take hours to clean up.
But that last option would probably eliminate any further litigation from Patrick Greene of San Antonio ...