Photo of Vancouver Canucks fans acting rowdy outside of Rogers Arena.

Image Credit: Vaska037 (CC BY 2.0)

Vancouver Canucks fans like to throw salmon onto the ice at Rogers Arena. How did this tradition begin? What is significant about salmon in relation to the Vancouver Canucks?

Vancouver is located in the Canadian province of British Columbia which is well known for it’s incredible salmon fishing. The British Columbia salmon is also symbolic to speed and strength which are vital traits to have as a hockey player. During the 1990’s, the Vancouver Canucks debuted an alternate jersey called the “Salmon jersey”. Many hockey enthusiasts considered the Canucks’ salmon jerseys to be some of the ugliest jerseys in NHL history (see below). The Vancouver Canucks organization even had a minor league affiliate called the Victoria Salmon Kings who competed in the ECHL. The Victoria Salmon Kings are now defunct. Also, the Vancouver Canucks mascot is a whale named “Fin the Whale”. Whales are commonly spotted in the Pacific Ocean but fans aren’t able to throw whales onto the ice at Rogers Arena (just so you know).

Photo of the Vancouver, British Columbia skyline.

Image Credit: Daniel Lobo

There is not one specific date or game that we could find as the origin of the salmon toss. The salmon toss at Rogers Arena is essentially a copycat of a popular Detroit Red Wings tradition. During the 1952 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings needed 8 straight wins to win the Stanley Cup title. Two Detroit store owners who were season ticket holders (the Cusimano brothers) took notice and threw a dead Octopus onto the ice at the Detroit Olympia. The Detroit Red Wings went on to sweep both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens to win the 1952 Stanley Cup championship. Decades later, the Red Wings’ octopus tradition has inspired other NHL fan bases to adopt similar traditions of their own; often involving a regional food offering.

Other similar traditions in the NHL include

The very first interactive fan tradition in hockey history, however, was the hat trick tradition. A hat trick occurs when a player scores three goals during a game and spectators throw their hats onto the ice as tribute. The Columbus Blue Jackets even have a display at Nationwide Arena which collectively holds all of the hats thrown onto their ice from hat tricks. The display also shows who scored the hat tricks and the date it occurred.

One story involving the salmon toss really touched us and occurred in 2012. Garrett Paquette was a Vancouver Canucks fan that dreamed of throwing a salmon onto the ice during a game vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, Garrett was tragically killed in an ATV accident. In memory of Garrett, Roger Paquette (his father) and three of Garrett’s friends strapped salmon to themselves and brought them into Rogers Arena. They threw a five-pound salmon onto the ice during the third period of the game vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs.

What tradition will those wacky NHL fans think of next? We think the San Jose Sharks fan base definitely have some potential.


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