The Octopus Legend


I am in the process of writing articles, and gathering information for them, pertaining to the Vancouver Canucks, players, management, and fans.  In the meantime, I decided to post an article I wrote about  The Octopus Legend pertaining to the Detroit Red Wings a few months ago.

I thought readers would find it interesting since the Red Wings visit Vancouver and the Canucks a few times during the upcoming 2012-13 season.

Rodgers Arena is not the Joe Louis Arena, and it was very disrespectful to the Tampa Bay Lightning organization when an incident occurred a few times where Octopi were flung onto the ice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on February 17, 2011.  I am not sure if this has ever occurred on Vancouver’s home ice, but it should never happen…  Legend or no legend.

There was even an uproar over a member of the ice crew swinging an octopus after the Red Wings scored during the 3rd period of that game.  The game ended 6-2.  The ice crew member was just doing what they do in Detroit, but he realized it was very  disrespectful to fans and the organization.  This matter was handled internally, but details were not publicly disclosed.

The tradition started during Red Wing playoff games back in 1952, in which an octopus would be flung every time the team scored, during the playoffs.  Joe Louis Arena is generally adorned with a giant octopus with red eyes.  You can see from the picture that it is a very big deal, and Detroit is very loud and proud of it.  It’s nickname is “Al” which is after Head Ice Manager, Al Sabotka, who is known for swinging it above his head when walking off the ice.  The owner of a local fish market, Peter Cusimano, threw one from the stands during a game onto the ice.

The 8 legs of the Octopus is meant to be symbolic of the 8 wins it took to win the Stanley Cup back then.  The Red Wings swept both opponents en route to win the Cup.

The NHL has tried their best to eliminate the tradition, but it continues to this day.  On April 19, 2008, Director of Hockey Operations, Colin Campbell sent a memo to the organization that forbids them from allowing Zamboni drivers from removing the Octopi from the ice.  It must be the linesmen that do this.  The ban was loosened to allow the twirling to be done at where the zamboni enters and exists from.  Frank Brown, NHL Spokesman stated “matter flies off it, and gets onto the ice”.

The tradition is meant to be done, primarily during the last 1-2 minutes, of games the Red Wings are winning… especially towards the end of the season, and most certainly during playoff games.