Reporting Tim Kephart
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SUNRISE, Fla. (CBSMiami) – Rats have been associated with the Florida Panthers since the team made a run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996. But if you were hoping to buy them at the Bank Atlantic Center, you’re out of luck.
The Panthers will no longer sell rubber rats at the arena after rats were thrown onto the ice in the final minutes of Florida’s shutout victory over the New Jersey Devils. The rats are typically thrown to the ice after a home goal is scored, which isn’t a problem.
According to Panthers team president and Chief Operating Officer Michael Yormark, Devils fans were throwing rats on the ice during a late face-off forced the Panthers to not sell rats anymore. Yormark spoke to the NHL about the issue and then made the call to stop selling the rats.
“Panthers will not tolerate any fan throwing items on the ice during our game,” Yormark wrote on Twitter. “If seen, they will be ejected from the arena immediately.”
That said, Yormark also followed that up with this tweet, “Rumor has it that cats fans are bringing rats to New Jersey #traditionhitstheroad.”
The tradition started on the opening night of the Panthers’ 1995-96 season. On that night, a rat ran across the locker room and Scott Mellanby slapped it against the wall with his stick, killing the rat.
Mellanby scored two goals that night and goalie John Vnabiesbrouck said it was a “rat trick.”
The tradition was started a few nights later and during the playoffs over 2,000 were thrown at one point.