DETROIT - As the Detroit Red Wings begin a new era tonight at a new arena, an animal rights group is hoping fans will leave on tradition in the past — the throwing of octopuses on the ice during key games.
"Octopuses are intelligent, sensitive animals who use tools, communicate with one another, form romantic bonds, and deserve our respect," PETA spokeswoman Colleen O"Brien said in a press release. "And we hope the new stadium will usher in a new eara of compassion for them."
To make that point, PETA will be handing out squeezable toy octopuses at tonight's season opening Red Wings game at the new Little Caesars Arena against the Minnesota Wild.
The throwing of dead octopuses on the ice is a 65-year tradition among Red Wing fans. Although arena rules and a Detroit city ordinance forbid the practice, arena ushers and league officials have for the most part looked the other way for years.
Fans risk being ejected from the game and fined up to $500 under the city ordinance.
Tossing an octopus on the ice at key games has been a tradition with the Red Wings since it was begun by a couple of brothers with a store in Eastern Market — who famously chose the eight-armed octopus to symbolize eight NHL playoff games.
This isn't the first time PETA has objected. Last spring, the organization said fans throwning octopuses on the ice should be fined $5,000 — 10 times the rarely enforced fine in a city ordinance for littering a field of play — and should be ejected for life from all Red Wings games.
At the time, Kevin Dean, co-owner of Superior Fish Co. in Royal Oak, long the fans' favored source of octopuses, said the sea creatures aren’t endangered, and they arrive at his store frozen and thoroughly "passed away" from the western Pacific Ocean, where they are plentiful.
Detroit Free Press