The tossing of octopi onto the ice at Joe Louis Arena is perhaps objectively the dumbest thing in the world, and I love it. I literally love the dumbest thing in the world.
And I'm ok with it! Maybe that's a problem, I don't know. It probably is on some level. If I was operating at peak performance just as like a good human being or whatever, I would guess that I'd be like "ok let's-- alright, what the fuck. Why are we doing this," and then I might even attempt to do something about it regardless of how successful that something would be, like complaining online or some such.
I am a very stupidly average adult man who stands and bangs his hands together like an idiot whenever I'm at a Wings game and some insane person goes running down the aisle to the glass and chucks a dead octopus into the middle of an actual, sanctioned NHL game. When you break it down like that and actually think about what this process is, it sounds like the most absurd thing that you could possibly think of. Imagine being someone who knows absolutely nothing about hockey whatsoever attending their very first game at the Joe, and you see a damn octopus flying onto the ice. An OCTOPUS. I'm willing to bet 99.9% of the population doesn't even have the word octopus enter their conscious thought on a given day. It's an octopus, I mean how often is a normal person gonna have something happen that makes them go "oh yeah octopuses are a thing." And you know they'd say "octopuses" too, they're not saying octopi without hearing that word first. So now you're at your first hockey game and you're reminded of the existence of octopi by seeing one hurled onto the ice at a hockey game. That would be pretty fucked up.
This thought first entered my mind before puck drop for Game 3. I was there with my buddy Jay (what's up Jay) and the place was on this perma-buzz throughout. Even a half hour before the game you've got people chanting and singing and getting all goosed up, despite how dire things felt after Game 2. It was great. If you like the Red Wings and you've never been to a playoff game at JLA I would recommend you find a way to do that at whatever cost. There's an energy to it that is a night-and-day difference from a regular season game and the worry of that feeling not carrying over to the new arena scares the shit out of me. That's gonna sound obvious as hell but I know plenty of us who have never been to playoff game and this is me trying to convince you to go for your own good. It's an experience.
Anyway so before the game: in case you don't know, a gigantic fake octopus lowers from the ceiling with lots of smoke for either dramatic effect or because this big fake octopus is high as shit. Possibly both. It looks like this:
This is the weirdest goddamn thing in a world. There isn't a single way to explain this to someone without sounding like you should be on some government watch list. Since this is before the game, this is before any real octopus tossing goes down, so if you're clueless about the octopus history, you would be seeing this humongous and terrifying sea monster descending from the rafters while 20,000+ people are losing their fucking minds, but in a good way somehow and not total horror, and have no idea as to the context of it.
I actually love this. I love that this weird and probably morally questionable ritual is a part of the JLA playoff package. You go to game and chant and cheer and when some moron goes under his shirt, un-tapes their stomach where a smelly dead octopus has been smuggled in and they toss it over the glass, man, the place just lights up. An octopus goes flying through the air and there are people yelling for real, "an octopus!" Hooray, an octopus! You can't help it. It's fantastic and weird, but also fantastic.
The funny thing is that I would never in a million years do this myself. Are you kidding me? Why would anyone do this! Do you know the procedure for how this goes down? I've gotta go to wherever the hell octopi are sold, spend real money, smuggle it in, SIT WITH IT, throw it, then get ejected maybe? I know that the enforcing of the rules on this, whether we're talking city ordinances or NHL rules or both, have wavered here and there over the years but I feel like that would be disingenuous if I looked it up now. Because damn, I don't even know. This is an event that I greatly enjoy watching when it happens but am like at least 50% completely ignorant to. I'm not proud or ashamed of that, that's sort of just how it is. I enjoy ignorant shit from time to time.
If Game 3 was the last playoff game I see at the Joe or the last one I ever see, it wasn't a terrible way to go out. I'm very thankful for that. And to the octopus throwers, I am thankful for you to. Much like a doctor or a fire fighter or an ice cream mean, an octopus thrower is an occupation that we need but I don't necessarily want to do myself.
Thank you, octopus people, for all that you've done for this great city.