By: Will Burchfield
The crowd roared when three octopuses sailed through the air and slapped onto the ice prior to the Red Wings’ inaugural game at Little Caesars Arena, but security officials bristled.
Then they tracked down at least one of the culprits and threw him out of the arena — possibly for life.
According to CBC, Red Wings’ fan and Windsor native Nick Horvath is facing a lifetime ban from Little Caesars Arena for hurling a slimy cephalopod onto the ice during the national anthem, a tradition that dates back to the 1952 playoffs.
Horvath said security guards grabbed him by the back of his Gordie Howe jersey almost the moment the octopus left his hand.
“The crowd was going nuts,” said Horvath. “As they were escorting me out people were booing them, ‘Let him go!’ People were high-fiving me, giving me spanks on the butt, slaps on the butt … everyone loved it.”
Horvath was quickly escorted to police, where he receiving a disheartening decree.
“The two supervisors of security told me I’m done,” he said. “I think it’s very stiff. If they want to fine me I understand, if they wanted to ban me for a year … I can deal with that, but to get banned forever? That can’t happen.”
He was also charged with a misdemeanor offense.
In the past few days Horvath has “desperately trying to contact staff at the arena to learn more about the ban,” per CBC, but his calls and emails have not been returned.
He considers himself a Red Wings’ superfan and proudly claims to have thrown the last octopus onto the ice during the team’s final game at Joe Louis Arena. In that instance, he said, the security guards and ushers applauded his efforts.
To smuggle the eight-pound octopus into Little Caesars Arena before last Thursday’s game, Horvath secured it to his stomach with saran wrap.
“You wrap up the octopus by itself into a little ball, put it on your stomach, and have a buddy wrap some more saran wrap on there, tight,” he said. “Once you throw the jersey on, you can’t even really tell.”
In the spring PETA issued a statement condemning what’s been a long-held delight for Wings fans.
“Octopuses are intelligent, sensitive animals who feel pain, and it’s no more acceptable to kill one for such a disrespectful, frivolous, and stupid purpose than it is to throw dead bear cubs onto the ice during a Bruins game,” said the organization’s president.
As Horvath pointed out, the octopus is doomed either way.
“The store is selling it to get eaten. But I made him famous,” he said. “He can be famous or cut up into pieces.”
Because the arena has not responded to Horvath’s pleas, he’s now soliciting the help of legendary broadcaster Don Cherry.
“Grapes … I need you to chime in for me, please,” he said. “I want Don Cherry, I need him, I need you, Grapes. Help the boy out!”