If there is one thing hockey fans love as much as their team winning, it’s the unique traditions that make each team stand out. From goal horns to victory songs, every franchise has its own quirks that bolster its identity and create raucous atmospheres in arenas across North America.
But for one NHL team, no tradition garners more attention than the act of throwing a dead fish onto the ice after goals are scored. It might seem strange or even grotesque to some, but for this particular fanbase–it’s pure passion.
In this post, we’ll reveal which NHL team is known for flinging fish after lighting the lamp, discuss the origin of this peculiar custom, and explore other bizarre rituals from around the league. So whether you’re a diehard hockey fan or just curious about this aquatic tradition, keep reading to discover what makes this team so unique.
The Tradition of Fish Throwing in Hockey
Hockey is a sport that has many unique traditions, but one of the most bizarre has to be fish throwing. A tradition that began at Seattle’s Pike Place Market and was later adopted by hockey fans in the city. But, what hockey team throws fish on the ice?
The History Behind the Fish Tossing Tradition
The tradition of fish tossing can be traced back to 1982 when the NHL added an expansion team in Seattle, the Seattle Kraken. Known for its seafood-rich waters, Seattle hosted the World’s Fair in 1962, which included a display from the Pike Place Fish Market. The fish market became well-known for its entertaining employees who would throw fish to each other in front of customers.
In the early days of the Seattle Kraken, the team struggled to find success on the ice. In January 1994, during a game against the Detroit Red Wings, a fan threw a fish onto the ice in frustration. The unusual event caught the attention of fans and players alike, prompting some players to give the fish a salute. And just like that, a new tradition was born.
The Influence of the Seattle Seahawks on the Hockey Community
The Seattle Seahawks, known for their fierce fan base and support of local sports teams, have also played a role in the adoption of the fish-throwing tradition in Seattle. During home games, the Seahawks’ fans are well-known for their use of props, including flags, signs, and costumes.
The Seahawks won their first Super Bowl in 2014, which only increased the momentum behind Seattle sports culture. As a result, more fans began bringing fish to Kraken games to keep the tradition alive and show their own creative spin on Seahawk fandom. The Seattle Seahawks and their infamous Twelfth Man have certainly made an impact on the hockey community’s traditions and rituals.
The Role of Fans in the Fish Tossing Phenomenon
Hockey fans are passionate, dedicated, and love to show off their creative side. It comes as no surprise that they are the driving force behind this unique tradition. In addition to keeping the tradition alive by tossing fish onto the ice during games, fans also create homemade banners and signs specifically for the occasion. Some even go so far as to dress up in full-on fish gear – complete with scales and fins!
The passion and excitement around fish throwing usually peak at playoff time when emotions run high and stakes grow ever higher. During the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Vancouver Canucks fans attempted to sabotage Seattle’s reputation for fish-throwing by placing a plastic salmon near the penalty box. However, this only inspired Kraken fans to step up their game and prove themselves once again as worthy fans.
“The goal of any true fan is not only to support their team but also represent the community in which they come from.” -Mark Messier
The tradition of fish throwing in hockey may seem bizarre to outsiders, but it is deeply ingrained in Seattle sports culture and adds to the fun-loving nature of the city’s fans. This ritual demonstrates how passionate sports can bring fans together along with their love for their beloved teams.
The Origin Story of the Fish Tossing Phenomenon
The tradition of throwing fish onto the ice during a hockey game is one that has become quite popular in recent years. While many people are aware of this tradition, not everyone knows where it originated from or why it started in the first place.
The First Fish Thrown on the Ice
The first instance of a fish being thrown onto the ice during a hockey game occurred in 2002 at a Nashville Predators game against the Detroit Red Wings. According to legend, two fans were inspired by their trip to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, where they saw fishmongers tossing around large salmon to each other with ease.
“We had just come back from visiting my sister up in Seattle, and we went down to Pike Place Market, which is world-famous for them tossing fish,” said Stu Grimson, former defenseman for the Predators.
After witnessing this spectacle, these fans reportedly decided to bring the tradition to their own city and bought a large catfish from a local market to smuggle into the stadium. When the moment was right, they tossed the fish onto the ice, much to the surprise and delight of the other fans in attendance.
The Connection to Pike Place Fish Market
As mentioned earlier, the origins of the fish tossing tradition can be traced back to the world-renowned Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. Known for its lively atmosphere and fresh seafood selection, the market has been a beloved destination for tourists and locals alike for many years.
“The thing about Pike Place Fish, our job isn’t to sell fish. Our job is to create memories, connections, and experiences for customers and ourselves.” -John Yokoyama, owner of Pike Place Fish Market.
The tradition of fish tossing dates back to the 1980s when a group of employees decided to entertain themselves and customers by throwing fish around. Over time, this practice became a well-known spectacle that has since garnered national attention and turned these fishmongers into local celebrities.
The Evolution of the Tradition Over Time
Since its inception in 2002, the fish toss has evolved significantly. While it began as a spontaneous act carried out by two fans, it has since become much more than that. In some cases, entire groups of fans will coordinate elaborate plans to smuggle large fish into hockey games, adding an element of fun and excitement to the already high-energy atmosphere.
Some players have even gotten involved in the tradition over the years. For example, Nashville Predators Captain Roman Josi once threw a catfish onto the ice during game one of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017. This throw was particularly impressive since he did it from the stands rather than on the ice itself.
The Spread of the Tradition to Other Arenas
At first, the fish toss was exclusive to Nashville and Red Wings games. However, it has since spread to other arenas across the country, becoming somewhat of a tradition in many places. Fans of the Florida Panthers, for example, have their own version of the fish toss using toy plastic rats instead of real fish. Similarly, fans of the Carolina Hurricanes launched a campaign called the “Storm Surge” in which they celebrate every victory by performing coordinated celebrations and tossing anything from hats to plush toys onto the ice.
All in all, while the origins of throwing fish onto the ice may have been simple, this now-iconic tradition has taken on a life of its own. It is a testament to how something small and silly can help to unite fans and bring a sense of joy into what is already an exciting sport. So the next time you see a fish come flying out onto the ice during a hockey game, know that this act is more than just a simple gag. It is a time-honored tradition that has its roots in community, entertainment, and fun.
The Different Types of Fish Thrown on the Ice
Salmon, Trout and Other Freshwater Fish
In the world of ice hockey, throwing a fish onto the rink is considered a cherished tradition by many fans. The origins of the practice can be traced back to the 1950s in Detroit when a group of Red Wings fans threw an octopus onto the ice to symbolize the eight victories needed to win the Stanley Cup at the time. However, over the years, different teams have adopted their own unique variations of this peculiar custom.
One such team is the Seattle Kraken, who entered the National Hockey League as an expansion team in 2021. While the team is relatively new, they too have embraced the art of tossing aquatic creatures onto the ice. Fans of the Kraken often throw salmon, trout and other freshwater fish onto the ice after a goal or a significant win.
These species are commonly found in the Pacific Northwest, which is why they hold significant cultural importance for fans of the Seattle-based team. Moreover, these freshwater fishes are said to represent the pride, resilience, and perseverance of the Pacific Northwest community—a sentiment that playoff games and championship wins only amplify further.
Octopus, Squid and Other Sea Creatures
While freshwater fish are popular with certain NHL franchises, others prefer more eccentric types of seafood. Take, for example, the Florida Panthers, a team known for its relentless pursuit of victory—and for throwing panther-themed plastic rats onto the ice during games.
There’s one sports franchise that takes the cake when it comes to bizarre objects thrown onto rinks. Here we’re talking about the Detroit Red Wings, who continue to throw cephalopods like octopus and squid onto the ice—up to this day! This practice has become something of a cultural icon in Detroit, one that’s deeply ingrained in the hearts and souls of Red Wings fans everywhere.
Many older fans even recall how arena workers would pass octopuses around the stands to be thrown on the ice during playoff games. In some ways, it was a surreptitious way to bypass security checks and maintain the tradition—especially considering that cephalopods have long been banned from being brought into professional hockey arenas. However, things have changed with time, and these days, only licensed seafood sellers can bring or toss fish onto NHL rinks as part of promotional stunts for local businesses.
“Seattle is unlike any city I’ve ever played in before. They love their fish, so they showed that tonight … Every game out here gets crazier and crazier.” —Dallas Stars player Tyler Seguin after playing against the Seattle Kraken at an away game
All in all, throwing fish (or other objects) onto the ice might seem like an odd spectacle to outsiders, but what may appear strange to some holds deep sentimental value to others. It brings folks together by uniting them under a common cause. Be it freshwater fishes, octopuses, panther-themed plastic rats, or anything else altogether, fans will always find unique and eclectic ways to connect themselves with their beloved sports teams.
The Controversy Surrounding Fish Throwing in Hockey
For several decades, the tradition of throwing fish on the ice during hockey games has been a unique and quirky aspect of certain teams’ fan culture. However, this humorous stunt has recently sparked controversy due to safety concerns and opposition from league officials and team owners.
The Debate Over Safety Concerns
One of the major issues with fish throwing is the potential danger it poses to players and fans alike. The weight and sharpness of the fish can cause serious injury if they make contact with someone’s head or body. In fact, during a game between the Nashville Predators and the Detroit Red Wings in 2002, a fan threw a catfish onto the ice which hit the helmet of Detroit player Kirk Maltby. Although he was unharmed, it highlighted the risks associated with this tradition.
As a result, some arenas have taken steps to prevent fish throwing by implementing stricter security measures, such as bag checks, metal detectors, and increased surveillance. Others have banned items that could be used for throwing, such as foam “catfish” replicas or any objects not sold within the arena itself. Despite these efforts, however, some fans still manage to smuggle real fish into games and throw them onto the ice without consequences.
The Opposition from League Officials and Team Owners
In addition to safety concerns, the practice of fish throwing has faced pushback from those who believe it tarnishes the reputation of professional hockey and its players. Some team owners have voiced their disapproval, citing examples like the infamous octopus-throwing tradition of the Detroit Red Wings, which began in the 1950s but officially ended in 2019. They argue that these antics distract from the sport’s focus on athleticism, teamwork, and fair play.
“It’s not pro-wrestling. We’re trying to sell hockey, not entertainment outside the game.” -Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle
League officials also object to fish throwing on a broader scale because it violates basic arena etiquette and disrupts the flow of the game. Many stadiums now have strict rules about what types of items are allowed inside, including those that could cause litter or interrupt the audience’s ability to fully enjoy the event. Throwing anything onto the ice is typically prohibited since it can delay gameplay, harm players, and damage equipment.
While some may see fish throwing as a fun tradition for certain teams’ loyal fans, others view it as an unacceptable practice that undermines the integrity of professional hockey. As with any contentious issue, there are valid arguments on both sides—those in favor of fish throwing celebrate it for its humor and eccentricity, while opponents decry it as unsafe, disrespectful, and unsuitable for a family-friendly sport.
The Impact of Fish Throwing on the Hockey Community
The Boost in Fan Spirit and Team Morale
Fish throwing is a unique tradition that has been adopted by several hockey teams across North America, including the Seattle Kraken. This tradition has become an integral part of their game-day experience, significantly impacting the spirits of both players and fans. It serves as a unifying force that brings everyone together, creating one-of-a-kind memories for all who attend.
When the home team scores their first goal, the crowd erupts with excitement, and fish start flying over glass barriers and onto the ice. The sight of hundreds of fans hurling sea creatures onto the rink creates an electrifying atmosphere that amplifies fan spirit and motivates the players to perform at their best.
The Charitable Donations Made through the Tradition
The practice of throwing fish on the ice may seem strange to outsiders, but it is rooted deeply in important charitable initiatives carried out by different organizations, especially those committed to environmental conservation efforts.
The Detroit Red Wings have advocated for this cause since 2017 to boost ocean sustainability. Their “Fish Michigan License Plates” campaign raised money for lake sturgeon re-stocking efforts and received tremendous support from fans, communities, and players alike. Another example involves the Florida Panthers, who partnered with Deepwater Horizon National Wildlife Refuge to promote awareness about preserving wetlands, reefs, and marine life habitats.
Hockey games provide them with opportunities to talk about environmental causes publicly. Fans purchasing tickets or merchandise are supporting these fantastic programs indirectly while doing something exciting like throwing a toy fish on the ice.
The Increased Media Attention and Publicity for Hockey
Another significant impact caused by fish-throwing traditions are the media coverage and critical attention it brings to the sport. When fans engage in this activity, photos and videos flood social media pages that highlight unique aspects of hockey culture.
The fish-throwing tradition is something you will not witness at any other sports venue. Thus, those unacquainted with hockey’s experience have a renewed interest due to the sheer oddity of seeing hundreds of fake fish soaring through the air during an exciting match.
The Legacy of the Tradition on Hockey History
When we consider hockey history, traditions hold special and deep-seated importance in our hearts. As new generations join the forum as players or spectators, capturing their spirit becomes easy when practices like fish throwing already stir up intrigue and excitement.
Fish throwing has become part of a legacy transcending across time because the future memories revolve around it too. For instance, every Kraken game provides another opportunity for fans to relive previous sensations and anticipate the next pile-on festivity when someone scores.
“We’re hoping people see how much fun it looks…” says Heather Barrie, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Seattle Kraken…
This innovative aspect of hockey culture not only commemorates individual performances but also reminds us why sports matter in daily lives. It instills emotion and thrills right from childhood while building character along the way.
Fish-throwing may come off as irrelevant to individuals who do not understand its true meaning within the hockey community, but using this quirky activity can spark public awareness toward important environmental issues and deepen appreciation of hockey as a cultural phenomenon. Not only impacting games positively, but team morale, fan spirit, charity efforts, increased publicity, hockey history, among others.
How to Attend a Hockey Game and Witness the Fish-Throwing Tradition
Understanding the Rules and Regulations of the Arena
Before attending a hockey game, it is important to understand the rules and regulations of the arena. Different arenas may have different policies regarding outside food and drinks, bags, backpacks, and other items.
It is also important to familiarize yourself with the rules of the game, especially if you are new to hockey. This can include understanding the penalties, icing, offsides, and other aspects of the game that may impact your enjoyment or ability to participate in traditions like fish throwing.
Bringing Your Own Fish and Preparing for the Toss
The tradition of throwing fish on the ice during hockey games has been popularized by fans of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Seattle Kraken. To participate in this tradition, many fans will bring their own fish to throw onto the ice after a goal is scored or another momentous occasion takes place.
If you plan on bringing your own fish, it is important to make sure it is legal to do so in your area and to confirm the specific rules and regulations around throwing any objects onto the ice at the arena where the game is taking place. It is also important to prepare the fish appropriately, including wrapping it securely in plastic wrap or another material to prevent it from leaking or spoiling during transport.
When preparing your fish, there are several types that are commonly used in this tradition. Some fans prefer to use traditional salmon, while others opt for more unique choices such as octopus or squid. Regardless of the type of fish you choose, it is important to select one that is fresh and in good condition. Avoid using old or spoiled fish which could cause unpleasant odors and pose health risks to others around you at the game.
It is also important to use caution when throwing your fish onto the ice. Make sure that it is thrown in a safe and controlled manner, without causing harm or disruption to other fans. Throwing objects on the ice can result in injury and fines from both the arena and local law enforcement.
“The Kraken have made tossing a fish on the ice more of an art form than a nuisance.” -ESPN
If you are interested in witnessing this unique hockey tradition for yourself, attending a Seattle Kraken game may be the best option. As one of the newest teams to join the NHL, the Kraken have quickly become known for their passionate fan base and energized atmosphere. Along with the famous fish-throwing tradition, the team has developed several other unique game traditions, including pregame rituals and custom music playlists designed to get fans excited and engaged throughout the game.
Whether you are a longtime fan of hockey or just looking for something new and exciting to experience, attending a game where fish are thrown onto the ice can be a thrilling and memorable event. With proper preparation and knowledge of the rules and regulations, you can fully immerse yourself in this beloved hockey tradition while still being respectful and safe.
“It’s a uniquely Pacific Northwest thing that comes out of the seafood industry here.” -Seattle Times
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the history behind throwing fish on the ice?
Throwing fish on the ice is a tradition that began in the 1950s in Seattle. The tradition was started by two fans who threw a fish onto the ice during a game. Since then, it has become a beloved tradition for the team and their fans.
What type of fish is typically thrown on the ice?
The fish that is typically thrown on the ice is a Pacific Northwest salmon. The fish is often fresh and is purchased from local fish markets. Fans will often smuggle the fish into the arena in coolers or wrapped in newspaper.
How did throwing fish on the ice become a tradition for this hockey team?
Throwing fish on the ice became a tradition for this hockey team after two fans threw a fish onto the ice during a game in the 1950s. The team embraced the tradition and it has continued to this day. The tradition is unique to this team and is beloved by their fans.
What is the significance of throwing fish on the ice for this hockey team and their fans?
Throwing fish on the ice is a way for this hockey team and their fans to show their support and love for the team. The tradition has become a symbol of the team’s identity and is a way for fans to connect with each other and the team.
Has throwing fish on the ice ever caused any issues or controversy for this hockey team?
Throwing fish on the ice has caused some controversy for this hockey team. In the past, the team has been fined for unsportsmanlike conduct and the arena has had to be cleaned up after the fish have been thrown onto the ice. However, the tradition continues to be beloved by the team and their fans.