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Red Wings' fans not welcome

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Friday, May 23, 2008

If there is one sure thing about the Penguins' Stanley Cup final opener Saturday in Detroit, it's that the octopi will be flying.

Since 1952, when a pair of brothers tossed an eight-legged sea creature onto the ice during a Red Wings playoff run to represent the eight wins needed to nab the Cup, the octopus has been known as a good-luck symbol in Hockeytown.

And even though the required wins for the NHL's holy grail have jumped to 16, the tradition is as lively as ever.

Normally, the octopi are thrown after the national anthem or a Red Wing goal. There is no telling whether Wings fans will try to smuggle octopi into Mellon Arena, but Jay Roberts, a spokesman with the Penguins' security firm, did not seem concerned.

"We're still finalizing our security plans," Roberts said.

In Detroit, an employee at Al's Fish & Seafood Co. in the famed Eastern Market district, said sales of the cephalopods have increased because of the Red Wings' success.

That likely won't be the case at Wholey's Fish Market in Pittsburgh's Strip District. Owner Dan Wholey posted a sign at the market prohibiting Detroit fans from buying octopi during the finals.

"I'm not going to do it," said Wholey, who plans to check identification. "We support the Penguins here."

A staffer at the Strip's Benkovitz Seafood is giving Red Wings supporters more leeway.

"I would have no problem selling them an octopus," Benkovitz employee Cindy Norman said. "I don't watch hockey."

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