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The Rat Trick Is Back! Florida Panthers Fans Throw Rats on Ice, Team Gets Penalized for Delay of Game (Video)
Florida Panthers fans brought back an old tradition on Thursday night, and it cost their team four penalty minutes.
The franchise celebrated the 10th anniversary of their first and only trip to the Stanley Cup Finals back in 1996 by giving out commemorative plastic rats to the first 10,000 fans in attendance.
— Michael Damiani (@MDamiani_) April 1, 2016
Why? Well, it all started back in 1996. Bill Clinton was president. The only time you “went online” was when America Online sent you a free trial CD ROM in the mail. “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion was the number one song on the radio. And the Florida Panthers made a magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals thanks to the power of rats.
You see, prior to their first game of the season, Panthers forward Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the Panthers dressing room with his stick. Then he went out and scored two goals with that stick. So goalie John Vanbiesbrouck joked that it was a “Rat Trick.”
From that point on, every time the Panthers scored a goal, fans threw plastic rats onto the ice. By the time the Panthers reached the playoffs, fans were throwing rats by the thousands. Officially the team denounced the tradition. But they also got Orkin to sponsor their rat cleanup crew, which of course was outfitted in exterminator jumpsuits.
After the season, the NHL had to institute a new rule: when fans throw stuff on the ice, the home team gets called for a delay of game penalty. They don’t enforce the rule for hat tricks, and they generally don’t enforce it for one-off situations. But referees had no choice in Florida on Thursday. This situation was pretty predictable.
The first penalty came after the Panthers scored to take a 2-1 lead three minutes into the third period. The second came after the Panthers scored to make it 3-1 with three minutes left in the game.
Take a look:
Obviously, this was not a very well-thought-out promotion from the Panthers. They’re very lucky it didn’t end up costing them the game.
According to Panthers VP of business and legal affairs, the team has definitely learned its lesson:
The first 10,000 fans in the building for our next home game on Saturday will receive nothing at all.
— Steve Werier (@stevieinflorida) April 1, 2016
Hat Tip – [The Score]