Posts tagged “Octopi”

Octodrama Becoming Octogate

George breaks down the latest here.

It doesn’t jive with what Officer Bullock told me about the timing or the Deadspin-published account on the users’ role (Tommy B. said he was cheered on by ushers, though one did apparently turn him in). It is disturbing, though, and doesn’t bode well for the tradition.

On top of the clear indication that, whatever happened at the March 21 game, Round 1 Game 1 signaled a policy change, I got the impression from Officer Bullock that they may look the other way occasionally. That was confirmed by DPD’s not ticketing anyone for the two tosses in Game 2 (they hit the ice before and after the game). And there’s been no word of anyone else being fined for the other tosses that took place in Game 1. But of course, we didn’t hear about Charlie Graves’ story until now. It seems, though, that during the anthem and after the game are safe(ish).

But, assuming there’s not more to the story in terms of Graves’ conduct, his story about the full extent of the possible punishment makes it a really dangerous dice roll to throw between the opening faceoff and the final horn, goal or not.

And all the more important that throwers get proper crowd shielding. It’s a group effort, folks.

Octodrama Update

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.

On the Latest Octodrama

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.