Photo of Edmonton Oilers fans walking in downtown Edmonton, Alberta.

Image Credit: Mack Male (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The National Hockey League has all kinds of quirky traditions. Chicago Blackhawks fans cheer during the signing of the national anthem. Hockey fans throw their hats onto the ice after a player scores three goals in one game. Detroit Red Wings fans throw octopuses onto the ice. NHL players grow unsightly beards during the playoffs and refuse to touch the Wales and Clarence S. Campbell trophies. But why do Edmonton Oilers fans throw Alberta beef onto the ice during games?

The Alberta beef tradition began during game 2 of the first round of the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Edmonton Oilers (the 8 seed) were playing the Detroit Red Wings (the 1 seed) at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. As stated previously, the Detroit Red Wings were the first NHL team to create the tradition of fans throwing weird objects onto the ice during games (Octopus). In retaliation, an Edmonton Oilers fan threw a piece of Alberta beef onto the ice at Joe Louis Arena. The Oilers went on to win that series and advanced all the way to the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The idea of the Alberta beef toss was dreamed up by Gary McLachlan, a local DJ in Edmonton. McLachlan himself threw a slab of Alberta beef onto the ice during game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals vs. the Carolina Hurricanes. The Raleigh police arrested McLachlan and charged him with a misdemeanor. Unfortunately, the Carolina Hurricanes went on to win the Stanley Cup over the Edmonton Oilers in seven games.

Alberta beef is significant because Edmonton is located in Canada’s Alberta province which has a strong cattle and beef production industry. Nearly half of Canada’s cattle population is raised in Alberta. The province’s cattle population has excellent genetics and receives high quality production and processing leading to a better tasting product.

Copying the Detroit Red Wings and their octopus toss, a slew of other NHL fan bases have adopted their own tossing traditions. Nashville Predators fans throw catfish onto the ice. Florida Panthers fans throw toy rats onto the ice in reference to the famous “Rat Trick” of the 1990’s. Vancouver Canucks fans also throw salmon onto the ice during games. As you can probably already tell, all tosses are in reference to a popular local offering. What wacky tradition will NHL fans dream up next?


Related Articles