Yes, they are actually charging a Nashville Predator fan for throwing a catfish on the ice during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Pittsburgh.
Jacob Waddell of Nolensville has been cited on criminal charges of possessing an instrument of crime, disorderly conduct and disrupting a meeting by tossing a rotting catfish onto the ice during a stoppage of play during the second period Monday night.
The fang-fingered culprit said he smuggled the catfish into PPG Arena by vacuum sealing it and then putting it in his compression shorts to get it by security. He then removed it from his pants during a visit to the bathroom before strolling down the steps to the glass and hurling it onto the ice. He masked the stench of the foul-smelling fish by slathering it in Old Spice.
This act of defiance came in the face of a decree by the Pittsburgh Penguins (the team which is playing the Predators for the championship) that any catfish would be immediately confiscated. Stores in Pittsburgh have even gone to the point of posting signs saying they require ID for anyone who wants buy catfish while the Predators are in town, refusing to sell the fish to anyone from Nashville.
For those of you who don’t know, the tradition of tossing catfish onto the ice dates back to 2003. It came because the Predators' rival, the Detroit Red Wings, were known for tossing an octopus on the ice to represent the eight wins it used to take to win the Stanley Cup. Nashville’s answer was the catfish. However, it is tossed on rare occasions, although it has undergone a revival since the Predators began their Stanley Cup run this year.
Members of the Tennessee Titans offensive line even tossed a fish onto the ice at a recent home game in Nashville. And, it should be pointed out, that no one has ever been cited in Nashville for tossing a catfish on the ice.
Waddell became an overnight celebrity for his act of defiance. Nashville Mayor Megan Berry has even called for Pittsburgh authorities to drop the charges against him in the name of good sportsmanship. Several people have offered to pay the fines for him and he is the hot name on the talk show circuit. Lawyers are offering legal representation and the TBI has come out, expressing its confusion about how the charges were even leveled.
Personally, I’ve always marveled at the fortitude – or insanity - of anyone who would walk around with a smelly fish pressed up against their bare skin for hours just for the distinction of tossing it onto the ice. In the case of Waddell, he realized that not only would he have the smell of fish on his hands all night, but he would also be thrown out of the arena after paying hundreds of dollars for the ticket once he tossed the carcass.
I’m a Predator fan so I have a rooting interest in the series. However, in the name of good humor, Pittsburgh needs to drop the charges against our fish-wielding fan.
It was all in good, clean fun, smelly as it was.
Standard reporter Duane Sherrill can be reached at 473-2191.