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Throwing an octopus in Detroit doesn’t just result in a $500 fine—it’s a misdemeanor

Updated at 10:57 PM with a written story from WDIV: I had planned on getting a little pre-doubleheader nap and was watching WDIV Local 4’s evening news when I shook myself up with a start, because WDIV reported that a second Red Wings fan had his day in court after throwing an octopus, and as it turns out, the new City of Detroit rule against throwing octopi, c.i. 38-5-4, is not like a traffic ticket for going 10 over the speed limit, the kind of civil infraction where you can just pay your fine and go on your way.

The City of Detroit’s $500 fine comes with a disorderly conduct charge on the side. In other words, it’s a misdemeanor, and if you throw an octopus at Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit Police won’t look the other way just because you’re a Red Wings fan, nor will they look the other way if you, as the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa suggested, show good taste in the timing of your octopus throw.

You will be charged with a misdemeanor, you’re going to be tried in court, and you will face possibly paying court costs, community service, and possibly even jail time if you tick off the judge who sentences you for a charge that’s hard to disprove. Just as importantly, you’re all but certain to be not only removed from the game you’re attending, but also booked (and possibly even have a mugshot taken) at the main police department branch on Beaubien Street.

The Wings fan in question wore his Lidstrom jersey to the court date, and he told WDIV that he’s “laywering up” for his July trial after not pleading guilty, but this makes it official—unless you’re willing to both pay a $500 fine and have a misdemeanor on your criminal record, you’d better not throw an octopus in Detroit. The NHL has officially extinguished the tradition.

You can, of course, still buy Al the Octopus merchandise from the Wings, who simply rolled over and chose not to comment on the NHL’s enlistment of the City of Detroit and Detroit Police in squelching the tradition via a cash grab which now includes asking the City of Detroit to spend valuable taxpayer dollars trying you for daring to throw a cephalopod.

Thanks, Gary Bettman. Nice job. [edit: And thanks, City of Detroit, for going after an easy cash grab. Did the Wings give you their blessing?]

Update: here’s the video of Karen Drew’s report. The fan’s name is Charlie Graves, and he was charged on March 22nd for throwing an octopus against the Penguins, and was confronted by JOE LOUIS ARENA USHERS and TURNED INTO THE POLICE. That means the obvious—ushers have been instructed by either the NHL or the Red Wings, if not both, to turn octopus-throwers in, and this rule went into place far before the playoffs began…And the Wings chose not to inform their fans. Shame on them. Shame on them.

Update 10:57 PM: From WDIV:

The Farmington man who was fined by the NHL for throwing an octopus on the ice during a Detroit Red Wings game is charged with disorderly conduct. The NHL fined Charlie Graves $500 after he admitted to ushers that he threw an octopus on the Joe Louis Arena ice during a March 21 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

There is a Detroit city ordinance against throwing objects on the arena ice during games. Graves pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a disorderly conduct charge.

“It is a 50-something-odd-year tradition,” Graves said. “I feel the city of Detroit takes pride in their tradition, and if the (NHL) commissioner thinks we are going to go down without a fight, he is wrong.”

An octopus was tossed on the ice during a Red Wings first-round playoff game this month. The man who threw that octopus also was charged with disorderly conduct and fined $500 by the NHL. Graves said he will fight the charge in support of the tradition. .

“I pleaded not guilty, of course,” Graves said. “I’m going to fight for this tradition. And so, I have to come back in July for a trial, and I’ll be lawyered up.”

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Forlorn in VA's avatar

This is why I should not post when I am fighting insomnia. “do nothing to resolving the issue” should read “do nothing to resolve the issue”.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 04/27/11 at 04:24 AM ET

Steve J's avatar

Sorry George, i must have been asleep that day in law school when you heard the teacher tell you that private companies or organizations (ie NHL) had the power to tell the police and city what laws to enforce.


“Officer Bullock informed me that the enforcement of Municipal Code 38-5-4 is at the request of the NHL.”

Maybe not force them, but they’re requesting it and the city is complying.

Posted by Steve J from Columbia, MO on 04/27/11 at 09:32 AM ET

Rdwings28's avatar

It’s part of the de-balling of America. Like kids sports which don’t keep score. Some high upper’s wife said it’s disgusting and made her puppy husband do something about it. That’s just theory friends.

Posted by Rdwings28 on 04/27/11 at 10:20 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Is Detroit really such a utopia that people would vote against a guy solely for his administration enforcing a ridiculous law?  I’m sure there are bigger issues in the city.

Posted by yayamo on 04/26/11 at 10:53 PM ET

That’s exactly the point. There are bigger issues for the city to deal with, no time and resources, no matter how insignificant, should be wasted writing tickets and holding court dates for octopus-throwers.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 04/27/11 at 10:40 AM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

Posted by Rdwings28 on 04/27/11 at 08:20 AM ET

I think you’re on to something there. Pretty soon there won’t be actual games played. Winners will just be declared because it’s there turn. Actually both teams will be declared winners but only one of them moves on to the next round. Or every year, every team will be declared Stanley Cup Champions with all the teams and player names engraved on the Cup with each team getting its fair share of time with the Cup for the year.


Posted by Tripwire32 from the binary digisphere on 04/27/11 at 11:05 AM ET


I myself have had the City charge me and a bunch of hipsters with an unfounded misdemeanor.

Being a hipster should be enough reason to charge someone.

Posted by Garth on 04/27/11 at 11:30 AM ET


I don’t believe this is a “cash grab” by the City of Detroit as so far they only hope to collect $1000. Although the judge and prosecutors are on salary, if Detroit Police Officers have to testify, their overtime would eat up the profit and more. I also don’t believe the City of Detroit is doing this on their own to punish their hometown hockey team and fans, especially after a 50 year history. I would have to conclude that the NHL leaned on the City to stop the throwing on the ice. What they used to coerce the co-operation I don’t know but I am sure they could strong arm if they wanted to. The NHL should just come out and say, ” Yes, we are behind it as we are concerned about the players safety on the ice and don’t want them tripping over anything”.

Posted by Mackster from Eastern Canada on 04/27/11 at 01:31 PM 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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