Before Ottawa Senators goalie Andrew Hammond went down recently with an injury, he sparked quite a fire under his team launching them into a playoff push with an incredible record of 14-1-1, earning him the nickname ‘The Hamburglar’.
And with that christening from the public came a barrage of hamburgers to the ice. Fans from their seats, under their own discretion, took to throwing happy meals into play in celebration of their goaltender.
Possibly more than any other professional sport, NHL fans have for decades wanted to root or punish their team by pelting them with stuff they covertly brought to the arena. Not all cases of stuff chucked onto the ice this year was done out of joy like that of the hamburger shower; just ask the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This season and last saw Leafs sweaters, their sleeves flapping, descending to the ice from disgruntled fans upset at over a decade of abysmal play.
And for Toronto, this is just one in a series of disruptive instances in protest of terrible play. Back in 2010, a disgruntled fan’s support of his team began to waffle and he showed his anger in a blunt display of theatricality.
This tradition goes back far as well, back to at least the early 1950s when brothers took matters into their own arms to try and make their own luck for the Detroit Red Wings. Now it has become an annual tradition to see a cephalopod mollusc (octopus) hit the ice.
Since then, fans of other teams have tried to emulate the Wings with their own cadaverous displays, growing to the point of morbidity at times when makeshift taxidermy comes into play as was saw in the Detroit-San Jose Sharks series of 2010.
The arenas have been clamping down on spectators who lob stuff to the ice, barring them from returning for a season, police leveling fines and in one or two cases also handing out criminal records.
But I guess for those mavericks it’s worth it to show their support or disdain. Though it does slow down the game with play stoppages and cleaning crews being deployed, it sure makes the game just a smidgen more entertaining.
Honorable Mention: Hats
It’s too big of a tradition for us to completely ignore it, so it gets an honorable mention.
We all know that the ice becomes strewn with hats following a player who scores three goals in a hockey game. It’s called a hat trick. What is less known is when this started.
According to one story, it began in the 1950s with the Guelph Baltimore Mad Hatters, the New York Rangers’ OHL farm team at the time. The team’s sponsor, the titular haberdashery, would apparently award any player to score a hat trick with a fedora.
Another tale suggests it a was Toronto-based chapeau manufacturer that, if not started the tradition of awarding hats to plays who scored a hat trick, brought it to the NHL with the Leafs.
When the throwing of the hats onto the ice specifically became a thing appears to be lost to the annals of history.
This sure is a crazy game. You know it’s crazy when hamburgers only make the no.10 spot. As mentioned earlier, Andrew Hammond went on a tear for the Senators in the past month, and due to his name, fans dubbed him the hamburglar and tossed burgers to the ice after games.
An even more bizarre incident was Curtis Lazar picking up one of the burgers and eating it, saying “I was hungry, so why not?” Lazar defended himself saying the burger was wrapped in plastic. That sounds like George Costanza justifying eating an eclair from the garbage, saying it was on top of a magazine.
This is the most iconic of hockey symbols; the inexplicable throwing of an octopus at least once while the Detroit Red Wings are in the playoffs. The tradition started on April 15, 1952 at the beginning of the playoffs, which then in a six-team league consisted of two best-of-seven rounds.
The Cusimano brothers, Pete and Jerry, owned a seafood store in Detroit’s Eastern Market and had the symbolic genius to see that the eight legs of a cephalopod mollusc was the exact number of wins the Wings needed to clinch Lord Stanley’s mantel piece. So to increase the team’s fortune they hurled the beast onto the ice at the Detroit Olympia at the start of the series. That year the Wings would sweep both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, taking home the Cup.
And ever since, fans have been thrusting this prehistoric mucus beast onto the ice. Twenty years ago, they even lobbed a sea dweller that weighted 36 pounds during the Wings’ 1995 playoff run.
NHL fans sure seem to like their seafood on ice. In a move that was a simultaneous nod to the octopus of the Red Wings and an apparent taunt, San Jose fans have, on several occasions thrown sharks onto the ice. This “tradition” started in 2007 when a man somehow smuggled a four-foot leopard shark into HP Pavilion (now the SAP Center) during Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals with the Red Wings. It was then chucked onto the ice during play.
Since then more sharks have rained down onto the ice whenever these two teams meet during the playoffs. One morbid occasion occurred in 2010 when a fan threw a shark to the ice with an octopus (seemingly to represent the Wings) sewn into its mouth.
7. Canard Duck
It appears that Shark fans have the greatest affinity of any NHL fan base for throwing deceased creatures on the ice. This time it was a canard duck. And it wasn’t even the playoffs.
In the tail end of December of 2011 during a game between the Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks, a fan sent a dead duck careening onto the ice in San Jose. This act has not taken off it appears, thankfully, as it would seem more difficult to procure a dead duck than either a shark or octopus.
When the 26-year-old London, Ontario native threw a banana on the ice during an exhibition game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings he was channeling a history not of team rivalry but of hatred and racism.
During a game of no consequence, the banana was thrown while Wayne Simmonds was taking part in a shootout, landing near his trajectory. According to others at the game, the spectator had previously tried to lob fruit onto the ice; this was the only instance it made its target. He was charged with “engaging in a prohibited activity under the provincial Trespass to Property Act,” wrote The Toronto Star following the incident.
The Toronto Maple Leafs of the last half dozen seasons have probably become immune to the insult of having stuff thrown on the ice in protest of their bad play. If true, than their inoculation occurred in late 2010 when a creative fan flung defrosted waffles onto the ice at the Air Canada Centre following a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
According to the Twitter handle EGGO_BOMBER, who claimed credit for the food-ing, he did it to wake up the team and for them to eat some breakfast. One would assume he was suggesting the Leafs were losing because they were skipping the most important meal of the day.
From that 2010 game, it magnified and happened on other occasions, even with the famous green men of Vancouver chucking the carb-heavy Belgian pastry into the air to taunt Leafs players who entered the sin bin during games against the Canucks.
What would a listicle be without one salacious entry?
During the end of the 2006-07 season, the often inconspicuous Jeff Cowan of the Vancouver Canucks would go on a short but strong scoring streak that would see him net six goals in four games. In a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Cowan would score his four and fifth goal of the streak. In celebration, a fan (presumably female) tossed a brassiere onto the ice in the midst of the crowd chanting the fourth-line tough guy’s name.
Three seasons since its inauguration into the NHL, the Florida Panthers started a tradition that after a long hiatus still lives on in Miami.
Prior to puck drop of the Panthers 1995-96 season home opener Scott Mellanby killed a rat that was found in the Florida locker room by shooting it across the floor. Mellanby would then go on to score two goals that day giving birth to what teammate John Vanbiesbrouck called the “rat trick.”
At the next Panther game, a fan threw a plastic rat onto the ice following a Florida goal, ushering in one of hockey’s grandest ice pelting traditions.
Miraculously the Panthers would make it to the Stanley Cup Final that season only to fall to the Colorado Avalanche, but not without a barrage of rats hitting the ice following each and every goal.
The tradition caused such a delay to the game that it had to be banned, though it was recently augmented to allow for fans to throw plastic rats onto the ice only after the game has been completed.
At a time when cow flesh might have been considered a biological weapon if wielded incorrectly, radio show host Gary McLachlan and fan of the Edmonton Oilers had the idea to fling uncooked Alberta beef on the ice akin to the octopus tradition in Detroit.
It was during the 2006 opening round playoff series between the Oilers and the Detroit Red Wings when McLachlan showed his meaty support. The Oilers won that series, and faced the San Jose Sharks where McLachlan would follow, meat in toe, chucking the Alberta beef onto away ice surfaces. And when the team advanced to Anaheim and then to the finals against the Carolina Hurricanes, the radio DJ continued his antics, inspiring others to rain beef onto the ice.
It would appear that this tradition has died off, however it is hard to tell since the Oilers have yet to make it back to the playoffs.
1. Stink Bomb
This one is probably the most dangerous of the bunch. During an early 2008 regular season game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the visiting New Jersey Devils, a man threw an incendiary device onto the ice following a no-goal call against the Flyers. According to police reports, the perpetrator was wearing a Flyers shirt leading people to suspect his action may have been a protest to the call.
The canister began to smoke after being jabbed by Mike Richards with the use of his stick. It created quite a haze but nothing substantial and took only a couple minutes to clear before the game resumed.
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