Saturday, April 19, 2008

Octopus should give 8 middle fingers to NHL

By Rick Morris

The NFL's the one that's the No Fun League, right? The NHL is all about fan friendliness and embracing and appreciating the dwindling numbers in the U.S. who have been supporting their product over the turbulent last 15 years, right? The NHL would never quash a fun and beloved tradition just to act like a bunch of annoying killjoys, right?

Oh, wait, they just did.

If the question hadn't been beat into the ground already by a bald, bug-eyed camera hog with a grating Southern accent, I'd be asking Gary Bettman and Company, "What were you thinking?" It's one thing to change the league's rules in the middle of the playoffs to outlaw the kind of weaselly bush-league play that Sean Avery embraced at the expense of respect for the game of hockey (and I say that as somebody who loathes the Devils and Martin Brodeur and who still has a soft spot for Avery from his days with my Wings -- which included a game in Atlanta in which I must admit I was howling for Avery to draw blood from the Thrashers ...). That was a necessary move.

Banning Zamboni driver Al Sobotka from twirling an octopus over his head that was thrown on the ice? Not so much.

This particular tradition dates back to 1991 and the chucking of octopi in Detroit dates back 56 years in all, as fans started hurling the smelly creature on the ice to signify the eight playoff wins required at the time to win the Stanley Cup.

Well, I for one appreciate a great tradition, particularly when it revolves around my Red Wings. So does my Senior Editor Jason Jones (hope I'm not getting him in trouble in the new media market he's in for revealing his hockey affection!). So in defiance of that Philistine Colin Campbell, I wish to state proudly that on our blog, Al Sobotka will ALWAYS be twirling the octopus over his head. And as a great man once said, "Choke on that, Slapnutz!"

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