The story of Octopus Al, the mascot “Detroit Red Wings”

Each team playing in the National Hockey League team chooses a mascot, that is, a character-mascot. At the beginning of the existence of this sports organization (it appeared in 1917) in this capacity were the real animals or children of the players of the club. By the middle of last century, the positions of most mascots were occupied by anthropomorphic animals. One of the exceptions here is the Octopus, the symbol of Detroit Red Wings. He remained in his animal form and did not become a costume character.

The Birth of Tradition

Behind the appearance of the Octopus, there is a really beautiful and amazing story. It happened in 1952. According to the then rules released in the playoffs of the Stanley Cup team to get the main prize needed eight wins. On one of the games “Detroit Red Wings” came brothers Pete and Jerry Cusiamo, who owns the fish market. They threw an octopus on the ice, which symbolized the number of necessary winning matches with its tentacles.

In 1952, the Red Wings fought on the ice to become the owners of the Stanley Cup for the fifth time. The club in that season really won, and his fans really liked to throw octopuses on the ice. The appearance of syioplanters toronto maple leafs vs detroit red wings tickets cephalopod on the hockey ground became a tradition. So fans of the Detroit Red Wings have been calling for luck for more than half a century.

By the way, today the appearance of Octopus Al would be impossible because the modern format of the Stanley Cup play-offs involves holding games to four wins.

The octopus was given a name

For a long time, the octopus remained an unofficial talisman. Fans cherished the tradition and on each game brought live, dead and toy shAlfish that flew to the ice.

In the mid-1990s, the Detroit Red Wings club experienced another rebirth. Tribunes on his home ground in the sports complex “Joe Louis Arena” invariably filled thousands of fans who threw ice on hundreds of octopuses. Cleaning of the mascots was usually done by the same person – the driver of the ice combine Zamboni El Sobotka. At fans this irreplaceable worker jurikustoj of a home arena of a favorite command quickly became that today is called as a meme. Sobotka was so popular that some fans came to the sports complex early and enjoyed a separate pleasure from watching how he prepares ice for the start of the game.

In 1995, the Detroit Red Wings decided to determine the official talisman. With the character no doubt was not – in this capacity chosen long ago became a native for the team octopus. However, the character cannot be called just “Octopus”, for better memorability, he needs some unique name, for example, Kit Fin, St. Bernard Bernie or Coyote Hauler. The name was given to the mascot by the fans. They have long called the octopus Al, and the management team only had to fix the finished character on paper.

About the difficult fate


Octopus Al – the only mascot that did not get a normal “human” appearance in the NHL. His competitors famously slip on the ice in the T-shirts of their teams, and also appear in a variety of places outside the sports ground. El did not get it right from the start. A person can easily change into a bear or a penguin suit, but with an octopus everything is much more complicated. For this reason, Al appears on matches usually as abandoned toys or shAlfish, and sometimes in the form of inflatable figures suspended from the ceiling.

One of the main claims to the Octopus Elu as a symbol is the difficulty of dressing it in any clothing. For mascots, this is important. On the clothes of mascots are placed the logos of the team and, most importantly, its sponsors. Attempts to put something on an octopus – the constant pain of marketers “Detroit Red Wings”. It is too difficult to do this with a creature consisting only of the head and eight limbs. Of course, they are trying, but sweaters and T-shirts, which have eight sleeves off their necks, look strange.

For a similar reason, the Octopus does not always fall into the symbolic teams of the team mascots. It makes it easier for writers to pick up someone like a bipedal creature capable of moving confidently on the ice than trying to squeeze into this strange creature, not destined for life on land.

Certain problems create the mascot “Wings” and the ubiquitous defenders of animals. In 2011, the NHL even introduced a separate penalty for those who throw on the ice alive (or rather, in most cases already dead) octopus. The punishment was $ 500. However, Detroit Red Wings striker Johan Franzen then said that he himself will pay all the penalties, and will not allow interrupting the great tradition of the club.

PETA in 2017 demanded to increase this penalty by 10 times and punish the perpetrators with a lifetime ban on visiting the games of the Detroit Red Wings. Naturally, on such strict measures neither the League nor the leadership of the team will go, although the fans can really punish the octopus thrown on the ice. This is justified not so much by the protection of animals, as by elementary rules of safety. Suddenly, a large shAlfish caught on ice can provoke a player’s injury, and in principle, throwing objects on the court during the game is prohibited.

However, all this does not mean that the club has forever abandoned a vivid tradition. His fans probably will see more than once how the same El Sobotka jumps out on the ice after the final whistle, brandishing his tame-headed namesake furiously.