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Irony, thou hast a name: Octopus-thrower Tom Balish’s court date is today

Of course, of course, on the day that the Detroit Red Wings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, the man whose $500 ticket launched a t-shirt and an online phenomenon will get his day in court, as reported by WXYZ:

A Red Wing fan spent Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Jose Sharks preparing to go to court. Attorney David Gorcyca will represent Tom Balish of Canton in 36th District Court Friday morning.

Balish is the octopus throwing hockey fan who was ticketed and kicked out of one of the playoff games between the Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes after he tossed an octopus on the ice. It’s something fans have been doing for years. But security grabbed him and took him to lock-up, slapped him with a ticket and kicked him out of the game.

The ticket reads: “Above subject did throw an octopus onto the playing surface of a hockey game.” The fine is $500. He says no one warned him at the door when he showed several security guards the octopus in a clear bag.

It’s not unusual to see octopi thrown during a Wings playoff game. Balish’s was one of two thrown that night.

The NHL issued a statement to Action News about the incident.

“NHL security did not direct that this person be arrested or ejected. We do have a prohibition against throwing things to the ice surface since this may cause a delay in game or injury to players or others working on the ice surface,” said Frank Brown, Group Vice President of Media Relations.

No, you’ve managed to get the City of Detroit to fine people $500, applicable court costs, and charge them with disorderly conduct—which, as Gorcya notes in the clip below, is a misdemeanor—for throwing an octopus. It’s no longer a “prohibition”—it’s a law on the City of Detroit’s books.

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MsRedWinger's avatar

I really want him to fight this. I think he has a good case, especially since he revealed the octopus on his way in and no one warned him not to toss it.  Glad you are continuing to cover this.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 05/13/11 at 10:43 AM ET

Wings_in_NYC's avatar

They should make Hudler pay all of this guy’s expenses. It’s the LEAST that little goat could do.

Posted by Wings_in_NYC on 05/13/11 at 10:47 AM ET

Slumpy's avatar

Wonder how much bettman/daly law firm “donated” to the Detroit police to get them to bust that Red Wings fan.
Never seen that Frank Brown before on TV or in any interviews but after reading his comments he sounds like a typical bettman “yes man.”
Hope this Canton guy gets off without a fine and his punishment to be to pretend to clean up The Joe’s locker rooms.

Posted by Slumpy from Under My Wheels on 05/13/11 at 07:55 PM ET


Oh yeah, the NHL & Gary Bettman sit around all day and write & pass laws for Detroit. It’s always Gary Bettman’s fault.
Sorry Detroit fans- play with your dead creatures at home from now on. Your tradition may be old, but it really kind of sucks.

Posted by obsolete on 05/14/11 at 02:18 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

The NHL is very clearly involved here. There wasn’t a formal law on the books regarding fining and charging someone who throws an octopus on the ice with disorderly conduct until sometime in March of this year.

You may or may not agree with the tradition, but there’s no disputing the fact that no one had faced anything more than getting kicked out of a game for throwing an octopus on Joe Louis Arena’s ice. We now know of two people who were ticketed, fined and brought to court to face disorderly conduct charges, and that has never happened before.

Given that the Red Wings sell plush Al the Octopus dolls and that the Wings raise an inflatable octopus to the rafters at the beginning of every playoff game, it’s not like the Wings would sell their fans out to the city for an easy buck, though they clearly were told to keep their mouths shut and allow a few people to be picked out as “examples” here. This is undoubtedly something that has been directly influenced by the NHL.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/14/11 at 02:42 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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