The jersey throw has become the ultimate sign of hockey frustration in Canada

It’s not uncommon to see objects end up on the ice of an NHL game. In most cases, this is done as an act of celebration after a great moment or to kick off a playoff game.

Hats off after a hat trick. Plastic rats in Florida. Catfish in Nashville. Octopuses in Detroit. That weird season where Senators fans threw cheeseburgers on the ice because their third goaltender was known as Hamburglar. Innocent, fun and usually a sign that something good happened for the home team in the previous game or season.

In recent years, however, a new trend has started north of the border where fans of bad NHL teams across Canada have resorted to throwing jerseys on the ice as a form of, uh, disgust. ? Anger? Frustration? All the foregoing?

It happened again Tuesday night in Edmonton late in the Oilers’ 5-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, extending their current losing streak to six games, dropping them into the playoff bubble and erasing the entire goodwill that had built up during a 9-1-0 start to the season. It’s not hard to see why Oilers fans are frustrated. Despite having the two best offensive players in the league, the team has found no success of any kind in the playoffs and seems to be walking aimlessly in a sea of ​​mediocrity where it always seems a level or two below. real contenders for the Stanley Cup.

It’s somewhat fitting that this happened in a game against Toronto, as Maple Leafs fans made that famous comeback when they were deep in their rebuilding and not yet out of it (for what it’s worth, we also saw one as recently as this season). This happened several times, including one game in the 2014-15 season where three of them ended up touching the ice.

But while it was in Toronto that he really rose to fame, there was a jersey on the ice in Calgary as early as the 2011-12 season.

Eventually, we saw it perform in Ottawa….

Then, just over a week ago, we saw this happen in Vancouver before the team made their wholesale organizational changes.

Also in Montreal this season….

The only Canadian-based team that seemed to avoid this completely is, of all teams, the Winnipeg Jets.

So what’s the deal with that? And why do we only see this, almost exclusively, with Canada-based teams?

There is undoubtedly a real element of frustration here because in any case the situation is bleak for the team. He’s either mired in an ugly losing streak, a terrible season, or both. Fans are frustrated, fans want to vent that frustration, and sometimes booing the team or chanting for someone to get fired just isn’t enough. Sometimes you just want to throw something away.

There’s also probably an attention-grabbing element of imitation in all of this. The draw is seen on TV, people talk about it, people laugh about it (others go crazy about it), and someone in the midst of their rage watching another loss just wants to be entertained.

But that still leaves unanswered the question of why it seems to be limited to – mostly – Canadian fans? What’s going on up there this is the way they express their displeasure? Maybe because it’s the ultimate insult to the team? No sport holds its jersey and logo in higher regard than hardcore hockey fans, and you need look no further than some of the team and player reactions to the jersey toss. They hate it. It’s almost like a personal insult to them. It’s almost like the hockey equivalent of waving the white flag and abandoning your team.

Either way, any time the jerseys start hitting the ice, it’s a pretty good sign that major changes are coming to a team. It’s almost as if it becomes the fund for the organization. In the weeks since that Flames jersey? Brent Sutter was fired. In Ottawa? Major changes began to follow. Toronto? Licensed trainers. Vancouver? Licensed trainer and general manager. Montreal? The GM is already gone.

Neal T. Doss