The Detroit Red Wings won their final game at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday, 4-1 over the burnt-out husk known as the New Jersey Devils, as the Wings bid farewell to their home since 1979 before moving to their new digs at Little Caesars Arena next season.
It was a glorious day of celebration and misty-eyed nostalgia, as former Red Wings greats acted as the ice crew to shovel during the second period and fans were treated to memories made in that arena through the decades. Here’s what the final minutes in the history of the Joe sounded like from the stands.
Now, you might have seen some members of the ice crew (non-retired NHL player division) skate out to center ice and snatch a few things from the ice. Those would be the octopuses thrown by the fans in tribute to the Joe, in conjunction with the NHL’s slimiest tradition.
Red Wings fans have thrown an octopus on the ice since 1952, going from a tradition signifying the number of wins the team needed to capture the Stanley Cup to sight you see at nearly every Detroit game – at the Joe and on the road.
But the final game at Joe Louis Arena wasn’t just another game. So Red Wings fans upped their octo-tossing game to ridiculous proportions: According to Dana Wakiji of DetroitRedWings.com, there were THIRTY-FIVE OCTOPUSES thrown in the ice during the arena’s finale.
Mr. Bettman, that’s a whole lotta octopus gunk.
The unintentionally hilarious coda to the slime-covered sendoff for The Joe is that the People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals used the arena’s last game as a way to forward its agenda, demanding that fans who threw octopuses on the ice be severely punished.
“Please levy a $5,000 fine against those who bring an octopus into the arena or are caught throwing one on the ice,” wrote PETA in a letter to the Red Wings. “In addition, immediately eject them from the game and permanently ban them from all future Red Wings games.”
Yet intead of being intimidated by PETA’s strongly-worded memo, Red Wings fans decided to … like, throw all the octopuses on Sunday.
Farewell, Joe Louis Arena, and thanks for all the cephalopods.
(And yes, “octopuses” and not “octopi.”)