by Rob Joyce
No catfishing here – the center of the hockey world right now is in Tennessee. During the Predators’ run to the Stanley Cup Final, Nashville has established to the rest of the world that it is hockey-crazy, something that seemed a fantasy at best when the expansion franchise came to fruition less than two decades ago. Alas, “Smashville” has been a crazy atmosphere for opponents and a longtime tradition of the fans is now garnering national attention. Since 2002 fans have tossed catfish – a local cuisine – onto the ice at Bridgestone Arena.
Do it in Nashville and it’s okay, but as one Preds fan learned, on the road it’s a different story. After throwing a catfish onto the ice during Game 1 in Pittsburgh he was not only ejected, he was arrested (charges were eventually dropped). It’s taken America by storm, but tossing obscure things onto a playing surface isn’t new by any stretch. Like Nashville, fans in these places let their presence be known:
Detroit Red Wings:
It used to be that a team needed eight wins to win the Stanley Cup. In 1952 a pair of Red Wings fans took that seriously, tossing an octopus onto the ice. The Wings won the Cup that year (going 8-0) and a legend was born. Throwing octopi onto the ice has been a Detroit tradition ever since, sparking many copy-cats over the years, including Nashville’s catfish (the first catfish was thrown during a game against Detroit in 2002).
During his time with the Seahawks the running back revealed that his mom would treat him with Skittles every time he scored a touchdown. Once it became known the story took on a life of its own. Lynch would often eat the candy in celebration, and when he’d find the end zone in Seattle fans would toss Skittles onto the field. The million-dollar question: will Raiders fans do the same this year in Oakland?
Everyone knows what a hat trick is… but how about a rat trick? Before their 1995 home opener, the Panthers’ Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the locker room with his stick, then went out and scored two goals. Goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck coined it a “rat trick” and the fans caught on. As they made a run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final, every goal in Florida caused fans to cover the ice with hundreds of rats, so much so that it forced the league to make a rule-change penalizing the home team if fans disrupt the game by throwing things onto the ice. Plastic rats have been in an on-again-off-again relationship with the Panthers’ team store ever since.
Nothing is done to the football field itself, but it’s close enough to make the list. Since the 1950’s fans celebrate major Tigers’ wins by going to Toomer’s Corner and toilet-papering the two giant oak trees. Unfortunately the fun was taken out of it when the trees were poisoned in 2013. The replacements were planted, but a September 2016 fire again damaged the trees, which were replaced for a second time this past February.
A tiny NAIA school in Indiana takes the holidays seriously. One December home game every season is called the “Silent Night” game. At the start of the game fans stay completely quiet at the start, no matter what happens on the court. Then when Taylor scores its 10th point, insanity ensues. Fans, usually dressed in ridiculous outfits, rush the court and go wild as the game is paused. And it works – Taylor is 20-0 in Silent Night games.