Update (4:26 PM): Greg Wyshynski has the NHL’s statement here. – Matt
Update (3:45 PM): Got the official statement from the Wings myself just now:
hey Matt, sorry I’m late getting this too you (busy day/time of year). Here is the official rule the Red Wings abide by:
The throwing of objects onto the ice surface is prohibited by the National Hockey League and persons caught doing so may be subject to prosecution for violating local and state laws.
My emphasis. Make of that what you will. – Matt
Update (3:02 PM): James Mirtle’s on this with the League. Check back here for updates if he hears back. Also, thanks for the links, James! – Matt
Update (2:51 PM): The News’ Rob Beard has the official word from the police department here. No mention of it being a new policy. I believe Officer Bullock, though, and hope he doesn’t get in trouble for telling a small blog different than the official line. – Matt
Update (2:17 PM): Osgood chimes in. Awesome. – Matt
Update (1:41 PM): Craig Custance has the Wings’ official statement here. Note the words “The throwing of objects on the ice surface is prohibited by the National Hockey League.” The Wings are putting it on the NHL. Or, as George puts it, “throw at your own risk.” “But throw,” you might add. – Matt
Just got off the phone with an Officer Bullock at the Detroit Police Department’s Central Events desk. And it looks like I have to take back my statement letting Gary Bettman off the hook.
Officer Bullock informed me that the enforcement of Municipal Code 38-5-4 is at the request of the NHL. Evidently, police supervisors were informed Wednesday night, either before or during the game, by League representatives that they don’t want anything thrown on the ice. An officer has to witness the throw and nab the thrower on the spot, but it’s something they can and will enforce. Apparently, distance from players is not an issue: any octopus on the ice is grounds for ejection and a fine. I asked if it applied to hats thrown down for a hat trick and Officer Bullock pointed out it’d be much harder to enforce on hundreds/thousands of hats versus a few octopi.
The interesting part is that the Wings are not the ones asking for it. According to Officer Bullock, they’re fine with the tradition, and even like it. And I gather the police aren’t big fans of enforcing it either. It’s up to the officer’s discretion, so it’s possible fans may still get away with it at times. But with NHL officials pushing for it, it’s less safe to throw than it ever has been. Previously, it may have been a bit of an empty threat. Now it has teeth.
Bettman’s war against octopi marches on. What are we going to do about it, Wings fans?
Thanks to Officer Bullock for being so open with the situation. It was good to talk to you, sir.