"The Legend of the Octopus is a sports tradition during Detroit Red Wings home playoff games where octopuses are thrown onto the ice surface. The origins of the activity go back to the 1952 playoffs, when a National Hockey League team played two best-of-seven series to capture the Stanley Cup. The octopus, having eight arms, symbolized the number of playoff wins necessary for the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup. The practice started April 15, 1952 when Pete and Jerry Cusimano, brothers and storeowners in Detroit's Eastern Market, hurled an octopus into the rink of The Old Red Barn. The team swept the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens en route to winning the championship, as well as winning two of the next three championships.
Since 1952 the practice has persisted with each passing year. In one 1995 game, fans threw 36 octopuses, including a specimen weighing 38 pounds (17 kg). The Red Wings' unofficial mascot is a purple octopus named Al, and during playoff runs two of these mascots are also hung from the rafters of the Joe Louis Arena, symbolizing the 16 wins now needed to win the Stanley Cup. It has become such an accepted part of the team's lore, that fans have developed what is considered proper etiquette and technique for throwing an octopus onto the ice."