You know things are going well for the Florida Panthers when plastic rats hit the ice.
Panthers fans in attendance at the BB&T Center were issued a warning following Jonathan Hubderdeau’s goal to tie the New Jersey Devils at 1-1 in the second period of their meeting Thursday night. Rats rained down after Huberdeau scored his 17th of the season to raise his career high.
Officials warned that any further instances of rats thrown onto the playing surface would lead to a two-minute delay of game minor penalty for the home side. Well, Huberdeau potted goal No. 18 in the third period and you won’t believe what happened next…
Or maybe you will. Rats rained again, and the home side got a two-minute penalty for the rare objects on ice call. Perhaps ironically, these rats were handed out by the team to fans before the game, in honour of the 1996 Cup final team.
And it didn’t end there. When Aleksander Barkov scored later to make it 3-1, the Panthers were handed their second rat-related penalty when more were thrown on the ice.
For the uninitiated, the rat-throwing celebration or “rat trick” can be traced back to the 1995–96 season and the Panthers’ unlikely run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final. As legend has it, former Panthers captain Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the dressing room ahead of the home opener in October of 1995 and went on to score twice that evening with the same stick he used to take down the rodent.
After the ice was littered with plastic and rubber rats throughout the 1996 post-season, the league instituted a rule that would penalize the home team if objects were tossed onto the ice.
Fast forward to 2016 and the playoff bound Panthers have another rat problem on their hands.
Well if you’re going to hand out rubber rats…
Happy times in Sunrise, Florida.