Photo of the catfish tank at Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators. 

Catfish are to the Nashville Predators what the octopus is to the Detroit Red Wings. For decades, Detroit Red Wings fans have thrown octopus onto the ice as an ode to an old tradition that helped push the Detroit Red Wings to victory during the 1952 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nashville Predators fans have essentially copied that tradition and throw catfish onto the ice at Bridgestone Arena during games. The Nashville Predators organization have now even added a catfish tank to the concourse of Bridgestone Arena to the appeasement of Nashville Predator fans.

The first two catfish are named Gill and Ben and the other two catfish will be named by Predators fans via a social media poll. Gill weighs a whopping 34 ½ pounds! The catfish tank is located just outside of sections 118 and 119 at Bridgestone Arena. Bob Wolf, former owner of Wolfy’s Bar on Broadway (now Rippy’s), was the first Nashville Predators fans to throw a catfish onto the ice when he did it on January 26, 1999 vs. the Detroit Red Wings. Wolf chose the catfish because of the nearby Cumberland River’s large population of catfish. Catfish is also a classic food offering in the Southern United States.

The Nashville Predators will add four catfish to the tank in symbolism of the 4 games it takes to win a series and 4 series wins to bring home the Stanley Cup Championship. The Detroit Red Wings had to win 8 straight games to win the Stanley Cup Playoffs back in 1952. After the first octopus was thrown, the Red Wings ended up sweeping the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 as well as the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. The octopus was chosen because of their eight tentacles.

Officials from the National Hockey League have warned Nashville Predators fans in the past that a delay of game penalty will be given to the team if catfish are thrown onto the ice during games. Nashville Predators fans are instead throwing the catfish prior to first puck drop which is exactly what they did on Wednesday night for Game 1 vs. the Colorado Avalanche. The Nashville Predators organization doesn’t seem to mind since they don’t reprimand the catfish throwers in the stands. Getting the catfish into Bridgestone Arena takes plenty of effort. Many fans will use plastic wrap and strap the catfish to their bodies and underneath their jerseys. Getting a good enough grip on the catfish to allow you to hoist it over the glass requires plenty of effort as well. There was even a female Predators fan that mailed a dead catfish to the NHL corporate office in Toronto in 2017. The woman, who is a devout fan, was upset with a Filip Forsberg goal that was overturned vs. the Florida Panthers thanks to goalie interference.

 

There are other popular item throwing traditions at other NHL arenas as well. Edmonton Oilers fans throw Alberta Beef onto the ice at Rogers Place; a popular regional offering in Alberta. Vancouver Canucks fans throw salmon onto the ice at Rogers Arena. The salmon has the same meaning to Vancouver that the catfish has to Nashville; they’re well populated in the local waters. Florida Panthers fans also throw toy rats onto the ice at the BB&T Center in honor of the famous “The Rat Trick”. What items will NHL fans choose to throw onto the ice next?

 

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