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The Detroit Octopus

September 2, 2011

©2011 Peter Diamond

Recently I had the time to finish up a personal piece that had been sitting on the back burner for a while, mostly done but lacking those final touches. This piece is one of a series of -so far- three images based on myths and stories in the world of hockey, along with The Winnipeg Falcons and The Playoff Beard. This one deals with one of my very favorite of hockey’s weird stories, the Detroit Octopus.

The tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice at Detroit Red Wings playoff games was started in the 1952 Stanley Cup run, by the Cusimano brothers of Detroit. The legend has it that the octopus’ eight limbs represented the eight games the team would need to win in order to capture the Cup (it’s now sixteen games). The Wings won the Cup that year in eight straight games, and two more Cups in the next three years.  Since the first octopus was thrown in 1952, the tradition has been carried on every single season. The NHL has tried to curb and even stop the practice, but it persists as one of hockey’s oldest and weirdest traditions.

The illustration shows the great Detroit goalie Terry Sawchuck in action against the Montreal Canadiens, with a little help from the Octopus. I wanted a composition for this piece reminiscent of the crammed battle scenes of Utagawa Kuniyoshi or the one-panel samurai fight drawings of Stan Sakai, but with hockey sticks in place of swords.

Prints of this image are available at Thumbtack Press

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