Gary Bettman would like the Detroit Red Wings to stop swinging their tentacles at everyone.
No, I said tentacles. Tentacles. Big difference.
That's right, Bettman and the NHL would like Joe Louis Arena zamboni driver/octopus retriever Al Sobotka to stop inciting the crowd by swinging the octopus that gets thrown on the ice during Detroit home games because, supposedly, the material that flies off the octopus gets onto the ice and makes it dangerous to players.
They make it seem like toxic ooze is flying on the ice, but leave it to Herr Bettman to make a mountain out of a traditional molehill.
All the more fun of this is that not only are Detroit Free Press cartoonists going out of their way to show that Bettman is a moron but scientists have also stepped up to say that he's overreacting to something that's been going on in Detroit for seemingly eons. Have a look from the Free Press:
Dr. Steve O'Shea director of the Earth & Oceanic Sciences Research Institute
at the Auckland University of Technology told me in an e-mail, "There's no
'matter' that could fly off and cause a hazard to players, but should a twirled
octopus rupture and send its guts over the face or clothes of a player I can
imagine there'd be an element of yuckiness." True, but I imagine avoiding
yuckiness isn't the primary concern of hockey players as they dodge hip checks
and flying pucks.
This, of course, means that Gary Bettman is now taking his inspiration from the NCAA. In case you didn't know, at any NCAA event, the host arena has to look and feel as impartial as possible. Have any championship banners hanging from the rafters? Hide them. Team logos adorning the building? Cover 'em up. Signs hanging up in support of the home team? Put them away, they're not welcome here.
Heck, the NCAA doesn't even want any banners at all hanging from the rafters. I noticed this in Albany at the NCAA Hockey East Regionals as well as the Frozen Four in Denver. All of the MAAC banners for Siena College basketball were pulled up and hidden as were all Albany River Rats and Albany Firebirds banners at the Times Union Center. If you went to Pepsi Center in Denver hoping to look at the silliest retired number in sports forget it - it wasn't there.
I will give the NCAA a little bit of credit, however, as they hung up banners in Denver celebrating all of the schools who have won National Championships in men's ice hockey. But that's besides the point and now I digress.
Bettman has gone as far to say that he'll fine Sobotka and the Red Wings $10,000 for swinging the octopus while on the ice and causing a ruckus with the fans. There are many folks in blogland through Red Wings fandom hoping that Wings owner Mike Ilitch will cut Bettman an advanced check to pay for any future octopus lassoing. Probably not a bad idea, really, plus it would have the added effect of making Ilitch even more of a hero in Detroit but also throughout the NHL for making Bettman look like a complete tool.
Not that he has a hard time doing that on his own, but still.
Point of the matter is that this is thorough stupidity for Bettman to make this his angle for the playoffs. He decides that picking on an Original Six team who does this same thing EVERY PLAYOFF SEASON and has for years upon years now is a good idea. This leads me to believe that someone else complained about this and Bettman rather than seem like he's playing favorites decided, "That's it, no one will have fun."
Perhaps he was having flashbacks to 1996 when Florida Panthers fans showered the ice with rubber rats whenever Scott Mellanby scored and thought that all Detroit fans would start bringing octopi to the games to make the ice look like a deep sea expedition.
Sound stupid? You bet it does - so does telling a team to bag an ancient tradition. God forbid fun be had in the new NHL.