Catfish have lives too: Winnipeg girl pleads with Predators to end fish-throwing tradition
Harriet Belanger wrote a letter to Nashville Predators management after watching fans throw catfish on the ice
With the Jets in the midst of their second playoff series, Winnipeg fans have been getting to know this round's rivals, the Nashville Predators.
One young Jets fan isn't happy with what she's learned.
Nine-year-old Harriet Belanger was all ready for the first game in the series last Friday, but much to her surprise, the pre-game ended with a slap.
That's the sound that a catfish makes when it hits the ice.
Apparently, it's a Nashville tradition.
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Appalled at what she was seeing, Belanger wrote a letter to the management of the Predators, asking that they stop fans from throwing catfish during the games.
"Even though they're ugly, they have lives too," says Belanger. "It made me feel bad."
In her letter, Belanger doesn't just condemn the practice, she asks the management to answer a few important questions about the fish throwing.
"What happens to them after they get thrown on the ice? Do they get released? Get eaten? WHAT?"
She says she's confused about why they chose catfish, since their mascot is a sabre-toothed tiger. She thinks it's gross, cruel and ultimately, unnecessary.
While Harriet hasn't received any response from the Predators, she's gained plenty of local attention and feedback. Her mother, Georgia Belanger, posted a picture of the letter on Facebook. That picture has now been shared 143 times, and the original has even more likes and comments.
Why throw a catfish?
According to the Predators, the tradition started back in 2002. It's a play on Detroit's tradition of throwing octopuses, dating back to the 1950s. Back then, a team needed eight wins to take the Stanley Cup, so eight tentacles were apparently good luck.
Nashville wanted their own tradition but they needed something unique. And catfish are common cuisine in Tennessee.
Other teams in the league have traditions of throwing things on the ice, but the rules can be vague and vary from rink to rink.
Many arenas won't allow certain items on the premises since it takes extra maintenance to clear them off the ice. But Predators fans have been known to sneak the catfish in by taping them to their backs or stuffing them down their pants, and since the fans love it, security has been known to look the other way.
Now that the series has moved back to Winnipeg for games three and four, Belanger is worried that Nashville will bring their tradition here.
She'll be watching the game tonight, with one little exception.
"I won't watch the star-spangled part," says Belanger. "That's when they throw the fish and I don't want to see that again."