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The Legend of the Octopus

Published on June 6, 2017, at 8:02 a.m.
by Kenzie Winn.

Hockey is a sport quite unlike any other. From the all-out brawls to the wild fans, hockey is always sure to provide an entertaining show.

Recently, the media has had their eyes on the Detroit Red Wings — one of the top National Hockey League (NHL) teams based in Detroit, Michigan, that brings out some of the craziest fans. These fans are most known for their outrageous tradition called “the Legend of the Octopus.”

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The “Legend of the Octopus” made its first appearance in 1952 during the Stanley Cup playoff run. Pete and Jerry Cusimano, two brothers and Red Wings fans, are credited for the first-ever octopus hurl onto the ice at Olympia Stadium. The brothers were storeowners at Detroit’s Eastern Market and had access to many of the eight-legged octopuses. They realized that the eight tentacles were symbolic of the eight wins that were needed to claim the Stanley Cup. The next game they smuggled in an octopus and, when the time was right, launched the octopus onto the ice rink after the Red Wings had won the match. Amazingly, the Red Wings swept the series that year, and the good luck charm has carried weight ever since.

Today, Red Wings fans continue to launch octopuses and, quite frankly, the team seems to love it. Although, according to NHL vice president of media relations Frank Brown, there has been controversy surrounding the tradition lately due to safety measures.

“I don’t believe it’s anything new, but I’m waiting to hear back from our security. It’s a safety issue. You throw stuff on the ice, people get their skates caught in it, they fall down and hurt themselves,” said Brown.

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However, Brown ultimately said, “It’s a rite of spring; and just like in years past, we’re left waiting to see any substantial proof that octopus ‘gunk’ in Detroit has significantly damaged the playing surface or led to a player being injured. Because we’ve seen more evidence that it’s a tradition worth continuing than reasons for it to end.”

While those in charge consider the opposition, many believe it is a healthy tradition that boosts team morale and has become a symbolic figure for the Detroit Red Wings. A quick Google search shows there are many Red Wings fans who sell memorabilia with giant octopuses on the items.

Though there are skeptics, it seems like the tradition won’t be leaving Detroit anytime soon. There will always be that die-hard fan who will risk it all just to see an octopus fly.

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