Ice-burgers, octopi and the Buffalo Bat: hockey’s top ten bizarre moments

Andrew Hammond
Ottawa Senators' Andrew Hammond, nicknamed "The Hamburglar" holds up a hamburger after it was thrown on the ice after he defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The Ottawa Senators’ Curtis Lazar can eat as many hamburgers from the snot and spit-saturated ice at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre as he wants. He may be diminishing his chances of playing in the post-season at the risk of a bacterial infection, but the unsavory antic is not the most bizarre activity that has ever happened in the NHL – it may not actually the weirdest thing that’s happened this year.

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Here’s a list of the top weird hockey moments in history. Let us know at the bottom of this post if you can nominate a few strange ones on your own.

1) Red Kelly’s Pyramid Power

Hall of Famer Red Kelly was once tasked with coaching the Maple Leafs. In the 1976 quarter-finals against the Philadelphia Flyers he tossed the playbook out and was looking for some motivation (sound familiar?) for his team from the realm of the supernatural.

Taking a page from those noted hockey aficionados, the ancient Egyptians, Kelly placed pyramids under the players bench and in the dressing room. The pyramids powered the Leafs to an exciting seventh game but unfortunately, the Flyers prevailed. Pyramid power was never to return to Toronto although there are reports many of the structures remain standing in Egypt.

Toronto Maple Leafs great Leonard (Red) Kelly salutes the cheering crowd as he speaks at his banner raising prior to NHL action between the Ottawa Senators and the Leafs in Toronto on Wednesday Oct. 4, 2006. (CP PHOTO/Frank Gunn)

2) Cold-cocked streaker

Nothing is more exhilarating than running about in the buff, letting the cool air caress your nether regions. It’s more exhilarating when you do it in front of tens of thousands of people at the arena. Unfortunately, it’s slippery out there and in 2002, a streaker wearing nothing but red socks ran out onto the ice during a Flames-Bruins game in Calgary, slipped and knocked himself out cold. Mercifully, no video of this is available but here is another streaker at another Calgary Flames game.

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3) And where is the Batman?

The 1975 Stanley Cup finals between the Buffalo Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers were noteworthy for being the first time two non-original-six teams played in the final… but also because of bizarre nether-worldly happenings in Game Three.

On May 20, fog descended on the ice causing the game to be stopped momentarily. Then, as the fog lifted, a bat appeared and flew around at ice level. The poor bat received a high stick from the Sabres Jim Lorentz and was pronounced dead at the scene. The Sabres went on to win the game but lost the series to the Flyers. No players offered to eat the bat.

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4) The geezer in goal

Nothing can inspire late-bloomers like the tale of Johnny Bower. Everyone’s favorite Leaf goalie didn’t actually make it to the NHL full-time until he was aged 30 where his hulking stature (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) would backstop four Stanley Cup victories in 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967.

Along the way he captured two Vezina Cups as the league’s best goalie. His best moment came when he shared goaltending duties in 1967 with Terry Sawchuk and won the Stanley Cup in his 42nd year. His achievements were all the more significant because he played without a mask – and apparently without fear. Perhaps the current Leafs’ problems are because they leave babies Jonathan Bernier, aged 26, and James Reimer, aged 27, in the crease.

5) Year of the Mumps

The 2014-15 season has been significant for the number of players who have had to call in sick because of the mumps. While NHLers have a squeaky-clean image compared to other sports, the bacterial cesspools of their dressing rooms will now call that image into question.

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Fifteen players from five NHL teams were sidelined with the mumps this season, including a chipmunk-faced Sydney Crosby. Sweating, spitting, blowing noses and fighting at close quarters seemed to be the culprits. However, NHL officials believed the outbreak could have been much worse if, following some soccer traditions, the players began locking lips after scoring.

6) Taking our puck and going home

While Russians playing in the NHL are now common-place, there was a time when the styles of the smooth-skating Russians and the physical NHL teams were distinctly different. The clash of hockey cultures came to a head on Jan. 11, 1976 when the Soviet Red Army team, during a good-will tour of North America, played against the Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers were known for their extremely hard-hitting style, and when Valeri Kharlamov, was knocked down by Flyer Ed Van Impe – and no penalty called – the Soviets pulled their team off the ice, marched into the dressing room and refused to play.

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Threatened with having the payment for the game cancelled, the Soviets marched back onto the ice. The Russians should have stayed in the dressing room: they were outshot 49-13 and lost 4-1.

 7) Lucky loonie

The 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City saw both Canadian hockey teams capture gold medals. While the heroics of Mario Lemieux and Hayley Wickenheiser contributed to the medals, the Canadian teams seemed to have extra on-ice, or rather under-ice, advantage. After the games, it became known that Canadian-born ice-maker Trent Evans had buried a Canadian one dollar coin at centre ice and that several members of the women’s team kissed the spot where the coin was buried.

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8) Patrick Roy and the reliability of irony

Love him or hate him, Patrick Roy has made a name for himself as one of the fiercest competitors ever to don a goalie mask. One of the best “I quit” moments in history was when Roy, then a Montreal Canadien, got into a huff when he was left in the game by coach Mario Tremblay during an 11-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in December 1995.

Ignoring Tremblay after the game, Roy skated over to Habs president Ronald Corey and told him that he was never playing for the team again. Roy became a member of the Colorado Avalanche four days later and, in 1996, won the cup with his new team – the Canadiens have not won a Stanley Cup since.

Roy has been known for his aggressive manner of taunting other players and fighting other goalies but what goes around, comes around. The fickle finger of fate pointed to Roy in 2002 in a Game Six conference playoff against the Red Wings.

In a furious scramble around the net, Roy scooped up the puck and struck a Statue of Liberty pose, raising the puck high above his head. Alas, the puck was actually sitting in the crease and the Red Wings slammed it home and eventually won the game and the series in seven games.

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9) Hats, rats, octopi and now burgers

Throwing stuff onto the playing field after a bad call is as old as the Olympic chariot races but hockey fans have raised this tradition to a high art. Everyone knows you have to throw your cap on the ice when a hometown player scores three goals. And it’s April in Detroit when octopi rain down from the stands.

Throwing rats on the ice at Florida Panthers games began when Scott Mellanby scored two goals after killing a rat in the locker room (see, hygienic locker rooms and mumps, above). Someone threw a live chicken on the ice during an L.A. Kings game in 1988 (a fowl deed!) and now of course, fans at Senators’ games are throwing hamburgers on the ice in honour of their goalie sensation,  Andrew (The Hamburglar) Hammond.

Pity the poor Leaf fans who have nothing to throw on the ice but their own beloved sweaters.

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10) If the show fits

While playing hockey is a rough game, nothing is more dangerous as when opposing players, bored with fighting the other team, come over the boards to fight the fans.

The most notorious incident happened during a Bruins-Rangers game in Madison Square Garden when a fan hit Bruins player Stan Jonathan with a program. The Bruins climbed into the stands after the fan and began fighting the Rangers supporters.

At one point Mike Milbury threw a man down and began beating him with his own shoe. It could have been worse – Milbury could have beat him with his skate.

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Got some weird and wonderful moments in hockey history? – let us know about them.

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