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Ranking the top five NHL arena traditions

By Ryan Williamson, SportsEngine, 05/08/20, 9:00AM MDT


Hub exclusive: Check out which National Hockey League fan traditions made the list and vote for your favorite.

The Detroit Red Wings' octopus throw has become a tradition familiar to hockey fans far and wide. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports

The Detroit Red Wings' octopus throw has become a tradition familiar to hockey fans far and wide. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports

There are few sports with as many traditions as hockey. In the National Hockey League, it starts at the top with the Stanley Cup.

Aside from the trophy, etched with names and tradition, there are countless other rituals: ball caps on the ice after a hat trick, cheering with the goal horn blaring in the background after a score, etc. It's hard to find an aspect of this sport that isn't oozing with tradition.

While these sport-wide traditions have been building for decades, NHL teams have also garnered their own traditions. We put together a list of five favorites. It's up to you to determine which is best.

1. Color-Coded Crowds

For a city, having its team make the Stanley Cup Playoffs and earning a shot at winning the ultimate prize — Lord Stanley's Cup — is probable cause for fans to pack the arena with a buzz of optimism. 

One way fans celebrate this opportunity is by uniting and dressing in the same color. This has become a trend across the league, but has become famous in certain cities.

In Washington, D.C., Washington Capital fans have joined together to Rock the Red for years and they dial up the intensity to another level in the postseason. Any time fans pack into Capital One Arena, they are decked out in red to support the home team. Rock the Red became even more prominent during Washington's run to the Stanley Cup in 2018.

Other cities have joined in the trend, especially in Canada. A tradition long-lasting in Winnipeg includes the fans going for a whiteout during playoff matchups. 

West of Winnipeg, the Calgary Flames ask their fans to sport red during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Fondly known as the C of Red, fans bust out red jerseys and everything else Calgary Flame red during postseason action in support of the team.

2. The Knight Line

The Vegas Golden Knights remain the new kids on the NHL block, at least until the new franchise in Seattle is up and running, but that doesn't mean the team's flashy game production hasn't caught the eyes of many. That's very true of the Vegas Knight Line.

The crew brings the energy with its performance and crazy lighting, starting with the light-up shades that cover the eyes of the drummers. The crew varies from 2-12 and they fire up a crowd that's ready for the Golden Knights to win their wager against that night's opponent.

3. An Anthem Worthy Of Cheers

A person singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" is tradition at about any sporting event that takes place in the U.S., but when it happens at Chicago Blackhawks games the excitement goes up a notch.

It's become tradition that Blackhawks fans burst into cheers for the national anthem, happening even when Chicago is the road team. It has become synonymous with the team and adds an extra buzz prior to any Blackhawks game.

4. Throwing More Than Just Hats Onto The Ice

Wearing a color for a playoff game, or having a drumline at games might seem practical; throwing sea creatures on the ice certainly doesn't fit that part.

Enter fans of the Detroit Red Wings. The team has become infamous for its playoff tradition of fans throwing an eight-legged friend on the ice.

The tradition dates back to 1952. According to legend, the first octopus was thrown by Pete Cusimano, a fish market owner in the area, who threw the eight-limbed mollusc after a Detroit goal. The eight legs represented the wins needed to capture a championship.

Though a team's path to the Stanley Cup in this era signifies a team needs 16 victories, the octopus remains a symbol at Red Wings playoff games. Any time Detroit scores its first goal, the octopus is headed for the ice.

Though the Red Wings may have started the trend of tossing sea life onto the ice, the Nashville Predators have done something similar.

The tradition of Predators fans' throwing catfish on the ice grew to prominence in 2017 when Nashville advanced to its first Stanley Cup Final. However, there is reason behind this alleged madness. 

Catfish throwing during Predators games dates back to the team's inaugural 1998-99 season with Bob Wolf, a country singer and Preds fan, who decided during a game against Detroit to throw a catfish on the ice to try and counter the Red Wings' tradition. The throwing stuck for Music City fans and continues on today.

5. 'Let's Play Hockey!'

After a brief absence from NHL action, when the state of Minnesota lost the North Stars to Texas, where they were rebranded the Dallas Stars, the State of Hockey got its chance for a professional franchise again in 2000 with the Wild.

Ever since the franchise hit the ice, a variety of characters were tasked with gracing the crowd with "Let's Play Hockey!" prior to every Wild home game. The guest appearances are wide-ranging. The list of guests include former Minnesota Twin and Colorado Rockie Justin Morneau.

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