How cat­fish fling be­gan in Nashville

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - NHL - Brian Sch­mitt

Hockey his­to­ri­ans at Wikipedia say the tra­di­tion (and first cat­fish) launched in Nashville on Oct. 26, 2002, as a re­sponse to archri­val Detroit Red Wings fans fling­ing oc­to­puses on the ice.

That’s half right, says for­mer Nashville bar owner and mu­si­cian Bob Wolf, 63, a Brook­lyn, N.Y., na­tive who spent sev­eral decades in Nashville.

Wolf claims he is the first fish flinger and that it’s a move he made in the Preda­tors’ in­au­gu­ral sea­son, 1998-99. But yes, he says he did it as a re­sponse to the Red Wings 50-year oc­to­pus tra­di­tion.

Back then, Wolf owned a bar called Wolfy’s a half block from the team’s home arena — and a place that would get packed on game night.

Also back then, when the Preda­tors played Detroit, there were al­most as many Red Wings fans as Preds fans in Nashville’s arena be­cause so many auto in­dus­try work­ers had moved here from Mo­tor City.

So one night, Wolf and his other hockey-lov­ing bud­dies — the Wolfy’s Preda­tors brew crew — de­cided Nashville should do some­thing to counter these ob­nox­ious Red Wings fans and their fly­ing oc­to­pus.

Be­fore the next Detroit game, Wolf bought a 9-pounder at the Ger­man­town fish mar­ket, wrapped it in news­pa­pers and stuffed half down his pants, half up his shirt, he said.

The plan: When the Preds scored their first goal, Wolf would toss the fish, and he and all his friends, scat­tered through the arena, would jump out and race out, caus­ing con­fu­sion about who flung the fish.

The plan went off with­out a hitch, ex­cept that Wolf first dropped the slip­pery cat­fish on the arena floor be­fore heav­ing it over the glass, he said.

Wolf said he and the brew crew con­tin­ued toss­ing cat­fish onto the ice here and there through the rest of the sea­son, and a tra­di­tion and lots of bad smells were born.

Wolf and then-Preda­tors owner Craig Leipold were — and still are — great friends, but Wolf said he didn’t fess up for weeks.

Wolf is now work­ing for Leipold in Min­ne­sota for the NHL fran­chise there. Oh, and he reg­is­tered a trade­mark for the fly­ing-on-ice cat­fish, giv­ing it a name that soon might ap­pear on T-shirts, hats and in chil­dren’s books — “Preddy the Cat­fish.”

CHRISTO­PHER HANEWINCKEL/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Preda­tors fan Brian Mar­tin throws a cat­fish on the ice be­fore Game 2.

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