If an arena gives something away to fans, there’s chance it will end up on the ice. During dollar hot dog night in Philly, a flying frank landed on the playing surface late in the game. That was nothing compared to the deluge of rodents from last night’s game between the New Jersey Devils and the Florida Panthers.
To commemorate the Panthers’ 1996 trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the team decided to give away thousands of rats prior to the game. What could go wrong?
It only took until the first Panthers goal to find out.
A warning was issued to the fans to stop throwing the rats on the ice, advising that the team would be penalized if they continued. The fans stopped — until the next goal, at least.
When the Panthers scored to take a 2-1 lead, referees Steve Kozari and Dave Jackson had seen enough. Florida was given a bench minor for delay of game.
Refs call 1st ever Delay of Game bc of rats on ice. Gerard Gallant is furious. Panthers down a man. Why does the team do rat giveaways?!
— Deb Kaufman Placey (@DebPlacey) April 1, 2016
Despite announcement that Panthers would receive a delay of game penalty, more rats are tossed onto ice. And, indeed, delay of game called.
— Rich Chere (@Ledger_NJDevils) April 1, 2016
From the NHL rulebook:
63.4 Objects Thrown on the Ice – When objects are thrown on the ice during a stoppage in play, including after the scoring of a goal, the Referee shall have announced over the public address system that any further occurrences will result in a bench minor penalty being assessed to the home team.
It happened again after Florida scored to go up 3-1. The horn sounded, the red light flashed, and the rats rained down. Once again, the home team was given a delay of game penalty.
After the game, Jaromir Jagr was not happy with the penalty calls for the fans’ actions:
Hey, Florida, maybe next time, hand out the souvenir rats after the game?