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14 Of The Most Unusual Hockey Traditions Ever To Exist

No sport does tradition quite like hockey. Fans and players alike adhere to bizarre rituals old and new. Show your loyalty at this year's Stanley Cup® Playoffs by customizing your NHL® Discover it card with your team's logo.

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1. The Detroit Octopi:

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The "Legend of the Octopus" began on April 15, 1952. Detroit was making its bid for the Stanley Cup® and needed to win eight games to become the champions. Pete and Jerry Cusimano, two brothers, tossed an octopus onto the ice at Olympia Stadium — each of its tentacles representing a win for Detroit. The team did win the championship that year, and tradition ensued.

2. The Three Stars:

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It's a well-known ritual within North American hockey that, at the game's end, "three stars" are given out to the three best players. The tradition originated in 1937, when an oil company created the "Three Star" three stars (in order to advertise Three Star gas).

3. The Hat Trick:

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Though the "hat trick" is an accomplishment recognized in many sports, hockey fans have their own tradition for when one player scores three goals: They throw their headwear onto the ice. The origin of this tradition is somewhat unclear, but most theories claim it evolved from free hats being given to the players themselves.

4. The Rat Trick:

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You've heard of the hat trick, but have you heard of the rat trick? Coined in the mid-'90s after a Florida player killed a rat with his stick in the team's locker room and then went on to score two goals, this one involved fans celebrating goals by throwing plastic rats onto the ice. Sadly, there is now a ban on throwing the rodents onto the ice, but 1996 will always live on for Florida fans as the "Year of the Rat."

5. The Winnipeg Whiteout:

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Born in 1987 during the Stanley Cup® Playoffs, the Winnipeg Whiteout tradition has fans show up to home games wearing all white clothing in order to create an intimidating atmosphere for the team's opponents. It was initially a response to Calgary's "C of Red" (when fans showed up in red clothing) but took on much more of a life, until a series of defeats had many deeming it the "White Curse."

6. Playoff Beards:

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Believed to have started in 1980 by a New York team, the "playoff beard" tradition is straightforward: Players shave their beard when their team makes it into the Stanley Cup® Playoffs, and then not again until they're either eliminated or crowned the champions. The tradition has been expanded in numerous ways by teams, fans, and the NHL, including asking fans to grow beards and raise money for charity.

7. Each Player Spends a Day With the Stanley Cup®:

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The coveted Stanley Cup® is the crown jewel of the NHL®, and a running tradition within the League is that every player on the championship-winning team gets to spend one day with the Cup. There are many, many tales and myths of what players have chosen to do with their day, such as baptizing their children in it, eating giant ice cream sundaes out of it, and more.

8. No Stepping on the Logo:

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Hockey teams that have their own rink (NHL® and college teams alike) have locker rooms that heavily feature their team's logo. It is a widely accepted tradition that nobody — whether they be players or not — should walk over or step on the logo in the middle of the room. The origin of this one is unclear, but it's staunchly upheld by many.

9. Only Winners Touch the Stanley Cup®:

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Unsurprisingly, many hockey traditions revolve around the Stanley Cup®. Players know and accept that only winners are allowed to touch the Stanley Cup®. You may not lay a finger on it until you've taken the championship. It's unclear what the punishment is for touching it before you've won, but it's safe to assume that some sort of hex would be placed upon the unruly individual.

10. Saluting the Fans:

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Fans are an important and deeply respected facet of hockey culture. The tradition occurs after a home win, when the whole team skates to the center of the rink and "salutes" their fans with their sticks. It originated in Europe and was brought to the NHL by certain European-born players (who suggested their team start doing it).

11. Cheering Through the National Anthem:

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The birth of this particular tradition was back in 1985, when Chicago had been having some postseason troubles. Desperate to get their team pumped up for a game, the fans at Chicago Stadium decided to cheer all the way through "The Star Spangled Banner," thus starting a long-standing tradition.

12. Engraving the Cup:

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Since its inception, the Stanley Cup® has been engraved each year with the name of every member of the Championship team, resulting in over 2,200 names so far. When the Stanley Cup® is filled, the oldest “band” is removed, having a new band appear at the bottom, while the remaining bands are moved up and the oldest band taken to the Hockey Hall of Fame to be properly kept.

13. Tapping the Goalie's Pads:

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There is little fanfare around this tradition, but it's one of the most widely respected and accepted of all. Before any game begins, players skate by their goaltender and "tap" his pads in a gesture of support and encouragement.

14. Towel Power:

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The "Towel Power" tradition is generally believed to have been started in 1982, after Vancouver lost a game to Chicago. Their coach, who believed the loss to have been the result of poor refereeing, draped a white towel over a hockey stick and raised it in an imitation surrender. His players shortly followed, and by the following game, fans all over were waving white towels for Vancouver.

People will do some interesting things to show their love for hockey. Now you can flaunt your team pride with the NHL® Discover it card for this year’s Stanley Cup® Playoffs.

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