Update (20. Apr, 10:18 PM): Update with comment from the Detroit Police department here. – Matt
Update (12:35 PM): I should also mention that @MonicaMcAlister was told by security at a game against Minnesota that there’s a $500 fine for throwing octopi on the ice. So the official policy goes back at least that far. Whether that was just security bluster to discourage tosses or an actual warning is unknown. Could be serious enforcement of the rule wasn’t in effect until more recently. - Matt
Our relaxing evening last night attempting to recover from this nasty cold bug was interrupted by Andre’s (@ABoillot) pointing me to a Deadspin piece detailing a fan’s story of being tossed from Game 1 and fined for throwing an octopus after Datsyuk’s goal. The ejection part was no big surprise, as I’ve always assumed the price of throwing an octopus was getting thrown out yourself, if caught. But the $500 fine was new to me.
As it turns out, parts of the story don’t jive with reality (“[Commissioner Gary] Bettman started the rule at the start of the 2nd period.”), since the ordinance cited in the ticket, 38-5-4 of the city code, wasn’t placed there by Bettman with that kind of turnaround. Unfortunately, I don’t know when it went on the books.
The question becomes whether or not the Wings have a choice in calling in the cops to enforce the ordinance or not, and whether they were instructed by the Commissioner’s office to do so, if they have that discretion. That, or George’s theory in the comments here that the League went to the City. It also seems a little incredible that the security personnel would just let him waltz down and throw the thing, virtually cheering him on. I wonder if he just messed up and got caught, and would rather paint himself in the best light than admit it. But that’s beside the point, which is the fine.
I called the security desk at the Joe this morning and after the guy confirmed it was a city ordinance thing, he transferred me to the PR department. The guy that answered the phone over there took my number and email and said they’d get an official statement to me when they got it. Meanwhile, 97.1’s Jeff Rigger reports Wings personnel are being told not to say anything about the article. Makes sense, as the guy has active charges against him. It’ll be interesting to see, though, if they come out with a statement in general about the enforcement of the ordinance.
I also tweeted at Detroit Mayor Bing about the ordinance. So far, no response.
I think fans have a right to know what they’re up against if they choose to honor a tradition that’s nearly 60 years old. Is there such a thing as an acceptable octopus throw? Is it just tosses near players that are going to result in a fine? Or can you throw it into an empty zone on the ice and get away with it?
Given that octopus throws have been going on without incident since 1952, I think there’s fair grounds to call the mayor’s office and the city council to register complaints about enforcement of the ordinance in this case. If ejection has to be the price of a toss, whatever. But why hammer them with a $500 fine?
It’s been nearly three years since the League banned octopus twirling (with a later partial un-banning). The last thing the tradition needs is the City of Detroit getting on the anti-octopus bandwagon.