Tomorrow night the Detroit Red Wings organization will give everyone a free red t-shirt with the Winged Wheel logo on the front to, "Make the Stars see Red."
On the back the shirts have the official cartoon of "Al" the octopus as though he were in a police line-up. The actual purple octopus hanging from the ceiling of Joe Louis Arena and let down before the games is over 6' tall and so, appropriately, the height lines behind the mascot indicate this. To complete the characterization of "Al" as a criminal, an I.D. number tag for his mug shot appears around his neck stating, "Est. 4-15-1952." The caption below is in large block lettering as one would find on a "Wanted" poster and says, "Don't Penalize Tradition." I'm sure the home office will love it.
The announcement of the free shirt giveaway yesterday was followed up late today by a report in the Detroit Free Press that the NHL indicated a probable modification to the "Al Sobotka Rule" that will probably allow the real Al to twirl the octopi again during the Western Conference Finals.
Organization-initiated involvement by the NHL in this level of trivia - which has no direct effect on the outcome of a game - is prima facie evidence of a dysfunctional organization. Stating that an ill-advised ad hoc rule is suddenly going to be "modified" is nothing more than an attempt to save face for a bone-headed decision.
One wonders if during the past few days the Linesmen actually had time to read through their Collective Bargaining Agreement and realize that the NHL mandate to them to suddenly pick up boiled cephalopods hadn't been thoroughly discussed in their last contract talks.
Or maybe there is something to that superstition stuff and once the Octopus got angry the Avs got swept - with the tentacled reminder in Game 4 of 8 goals against.
Regardless, if Al can twirl the octopus tomorrow, then All is Well in Hockeytown!