DETROIT (WWJ) – The Detroit Red Wings are welcoming back a lifelong fan who was thrown out of the home opener at Little Caesars Arena for tossing an octopus, but he’s not exactly getting off scot-free.
Nick Horvath, of Windsor, claims two security guards escorted him out of the arena after he hurled an octopus onto the ice during the national anthem, a tradition that dates back to the 1952 playoffs.
“Walking down the stairs and I held it up for a second and took a couple steps, started swinging it. A security guard turns around and kind of puts his arms up and I throw it over him, get it on, and right away he grabs me up,” Horvath told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill. “As everyone’s going nuts he takes me out. Everyone’s booing him, you know, ‘Let him go.’ Everyone was high five-ing me, loving me.”
When the guards showed him the door, they said he was banned for life.
“I mean, I’m not making it up. He made it clear, I was banned forever. That’s what I was told,” said Horvath. “They both said — actually both of them said I’m banned if I come back and I’m going to be in more trouble for trespassing.”
The Red Wings, however, say Horvath is not banned from the arena — although he is facing a misdemeanor ticket for tossing an item onto the ice, a violation of NHL policy which every fan agrees to while attending a game.
Horvath says he’s sorry he interrupted the National Anthem and plans to auction off his Steve Yzerman jersey to a Wounded Veterans charity to apologize.
“It was a pretty big debacle and, you know, the story blew up over the weekend,” he said. “I’m sorry, so what I’m trying to do is tell everybody listen, I wasn’t in this for the money, I wasn’t in this for anything.”
And, Horvath says he’s learned his lesson.
“It was worth it to do it but I will never do it again,” he said. “I’ll never throw one again. That was the last one that I’ll ever throw in my life.”
The Red Wings do not have an official policy or position on the octopus-throwing tradition. Earlier this year, animal rights organization PETA issued a statement condemning what’s been a long-held delight for Wings fans. They also asked the Ilitch family to punish fans who bring octopuses to the arena with a lifetime ban and $5,000.
“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.
PETA says the Ilitch family never responded.