Press cartoonist Mike Thompson tests Bettman's octopus edict
Commissioner Gary Bettman recently announced that he would fine Red Wings Zamboni driver Al Sobotka
$10,000 if Sobotka twirls over his head the octopi that fans toss onto the ice at Joe Louis Arena. The reason given for the
potential fine is that "matter flies off the octopus and gets on the ice when he does it.
Free Press cartoonist Mike Thompson decided to take this "matter" matter into
his own hands this week on his blog (freep.com/mikethompson). Thompson bought a frozen octopus at Superior Fish Market in
Royal Oak, boiled it for half an hour, hung a white shower curtain on the door of his garage, and
then twirled the octopus over his head to see if any matter would get on the shower curtain. (He also ate the octopus afterward.
No live octopi were harmed in the test.)
Thompson reports: "No matter how hard or fast I twirled the octopus, I couldn't get any
matter to fly off the darn thing. ...
"As the perfectly clean post-test shower curtain proves, the only matter the NHL needs
to be concerned about is the gray matter between Bettman's ears."
Thompson plans to perform a second test
using a twirled, raw octopus. Check out the results on his blog prior to today's face-off.
Twirling Test Part Two: The "Raw" Data
Why, oh, why couldn’t Pete Cusimano have gone into
the meat business?
That was the question I asked myself earlier today as I headed off to the Superior Fish Market in
Royal Oak to buy another octopus for part two
of the great octopus-twirling test.
Had fish shop co-owner Cusimano, the man credited with starting the octopus
tossing tradition back in 1952, sold products that moo instead of products that squirt black ink, I might be enjoying a nice
sirloin steak for dinner tonight. Instead, I’ll be dining on octopus…again.
Why? Because one reader posted
after my initial octopus twirling test - in which I used a boiled octopus - and issued the following challenge: “I am
concerned that some well-intended fans may not be boiling their octopi before throwing them on the ice. Can you give us some
Well, never one to shirk from a challenge of the cephalopod variety, I decided to
repeat my octo-twirling test, this time using a raw octopus instead of a boiled one.
For those of you who are just
joining us, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that Red Wings Zamboni guy Al Sobotka will be fined $10,000 if he twirls
over his head the octopi that fans toss onto the ice during hockey games at the Joe Louis Arena. The reason, according to
NHL spokesman Frank Brown as reported in the Free Press, “matter flies off the octopus and gets on the ice when he does
My boiled octopus-twirling test completely refuted this claim. So how would a raw octopus fare when
twirled before a pristine shower curtain?
After several minutes…success! As you can see from this photo, if Red Wings Zamboni guy
Al Sobotka were to stand on the ice twirling the octopus furiously for several minutes, he would indeed validate the league’s
concern. But then again, if you twirl most things furiously for several minutes, chunks are bound to fly off – I know
I’d certainly be emitting chunks, if you get my meaning. And remember, Sobotka’s twirling episodes rarely last
more than a few seconds.
I’d say these tests should prompt the league to put to rest the “matter”
matter and allow the great twirling tradition to continue. I mean, really, what were they thinking? In my book, this is a
case of matter over mind.
Although I’ve been thinking. After a hat trick, fans traditionally toss their hats onto
the ice. If you saw some of the Colorado fans
at game one, you’d know that those hats might not always come from the cleanest of heads. So the question is: When rink
employees pick up said hats, does any matter fall off them onto the ice, creating a potential hazard for players?
Wait, let’s not give NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman any ideas