Florida Panthers Say New Jersey Devils Fans Led to Rubber Rat Ban

By Steve Palumbo

The Florida Panthers have a playoff tradition as old as the internet and it involves throwing rubber rats onto the ice. It’s not quite like Detroit’s time honored tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice, mainly because the Panthers have had very little in the way of playoff traditions.

The practice of littering the ice with cat toys dates way, way back to the late 90’s when former Panther forward Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the locker room with his stick and the “rat trick” was born.

The practice involved fans throwing toy rats on the ice after every Florida playoff goal and it made a huge mess. The NHL quickly put an end to the practice because the clean-up delayed the game for too long.

With the Panthers finally returning to the postseason for the first time in over 10 seasons it was only natural that their pesky partners join them . Only this time the rodents lifespan was short lived.

Fans had been allowed to toss a celebratory rat or two on the ice at the conclusion of a Panthers home victory. Now it appears that may be stopped altogether because the rats began to make an appearance on the ice during play in game five thus delaying the game for the subsequent clean-up.

The NHL warned the Panthers after the game and they may be subject to a minor penalty if the problem persists. Now, Florida has banned the sales of rubberized rats at Bank Atlantic Center.

But, despite the attempt to curtail the rat nuisance, Panthers management doesn’t seem to think their own fans are to blame. It’s sounds like they believe their opponents fans may have been trying to draw the ire of the referees by delaying the game in an attempt to earn their team a power play.

A tweet by Panthers COO points the finger squarely at the visiting fans not the hometown crowd.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/PanthersYormark/status/194459746823176192″]

Even if there were New Jersey Devils fans tossing rats on the ice, you’re going to try and tell me that Florida fans just sat there as quiet as a church mouse (pun intended) and didn’t participate? It sounds like sour grapes to me.

If the NHL truly wants to get rid of their rat problem they may want to consider having a few calls go the Devils way. If New Jersey wins the series the rats go away, simple as that. Even the Pied Piper didn’t have it that easy.

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Email me at StevePalumboNHL@gmail.com

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