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Detroit ban for dead octopuses

Ice hockey

What has 10 legs, Red Wings and is banned from the Detroit home of one of the National Hockey League finest? Here's a hint: the answer concerns one of the more bizarre American sporting traditions come play-off time.

Fans of the Detroit Red Wings caught bringing dead octopuses into the Joe Louis Arena - or, worse, chucking them on to the rink - are to be thrown out.

The practice of lobbing the eight-legged creatures on to the ice has been a play-off ritual for Red Wings fans since 1952. That is when the first octopus was tossed at the defunct Olympia Stadium, each arm representing the number of victories needed to win the Stanley Cup. It now takes 16 victories to win the outsized trophy, but the tradition has continued.

In September, however, the NHL said that a home team would be penalised if a game is held up because of fans throwing objects on the ice.

The new rule was imposed largely in response to Florida fans, who littered the ice with hundreds of plastic rats whenever the Panthers scored last season.

Hence the Red Wings' warning to their loyal followers on the eve of yesterday's opening play-off game at home against the St Louis Blues.