Detroit Red Wings fans fling octopus at Joe Louis Arena one last time

As the Detroit Red Wings played their final game in Joe Louis Arena, hockey fans defied a call to end the age-old tradition of tossing octopus onto the ice.

Dozens of the eight-tentacled creatures were flung down from the stands as Detroit trounced the New Jersey Devils 4-1 Sunday.

The tradition, which dates back more than six decades, is actually outlawed by both the NHL franchise and city bylaws, but nobody really enforces those rules. And, as the Red Wings ended their ride at Joe, moving next season to the Little Caesars Arena, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals hoped for a final crack down on the practise. Or, at least, compel a change of heart among fans.

“Octopuses are intelligent, sensitive animals who feel pain, and it’s no more acceptable to kill one for such a disrespectful, frivolous, and stupid purpose than it is to throw dead bear cubs onto the ice during a Bruins game,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk explained.

In the letter to the team Friday, PETA called on the organization to actually penalize fans bringing in octopus with a $5,000 fine – which is 10 times the existing, rarely laid penalty for littering a field of play — and banned from games for life.

The team, or the league, hasn’t exactly enforced the rules over the years.

Media always covered it.

Despite the disgust of some critics.

And on Sunday, fans certainly ignored PETA’s plea. The, an absurd number – 35 – octopus were thrown in during the finale.


The animals are actually purchased dead from local stores – selling out heading into today’s game – but that’s hardly acceptable to PETA.

“Dead or alive, animals do not belong in an ice hockey arena. Please urge the National Hockey League (NHL) to institute a policy against allowing animals at games and events,” the organization said, pointing to a live penguin stunt at a Pittsburgh Penguins game.

The tradition, by the way, dates back to April 15, 1952 when two brothers who owned a market threw one on the ice to represent the number of playoff wins needed to win the Stanley Cup. (A purple octopus is the teams official-unoffical mascot.)

The Red Wings, for the record, did not make the playoffs this year. Time will only tell if the tradition continues at the team’s new digs next season.

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.


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