By Michael Farber, SI.com
The NHL, in its infinite wisdom, last week decided to fine the Detroit Red Wings $10,000 if Al Sobotka, the building supervisor at Joe Louis Arena, ever twirls an octopus (photo) on the ice again during the playoffs in one of his famous efforts to fire up the home crowd.
Other than being organic (the tradition, not to mention the octopus itself) and a million miles removed from the plastic rat craze that overran Florida in 1996, the NHL edict was supposed to level the playing field while keeping the playing field (ice surface) free from any parts of the octopus that might be lost in the Sobotka Spin.
Well, the NHL really showed the Red Wings.
When the first octopus landed -- splat! -- on the ice during the national anthem before Game 1 of the Red Wings-Avalanche series on Thursday night, linesman Scott Driscoll was handed a shovel and told to remove the octopus himself. The guy calls a great line, but he is not exactly Mr. Clean.
Even with partner Jean Morin eventually lending a helping hand, the linesmen made a mess of the ice. (Clearly, NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom is going to have to expand the training camp protocols next September.)
After finally getting the octopus off the ice and handing it to Sobotka on the other side of the Zamboni door, the cheeky Sobotka twirled it anyway. He was in the tunnel and not on the ice, technically violating no NHL ruling, but still within view of most of the patrons. The crowd went crazy.
In Detroit, apparently they are countless ways to skin an octopus. And the NHL.