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The Panthers’ popular tradition of throwing plastic rats on the ice at FLA Live Arena dates to 1996.

But Florida isn’t the only team in the 2023 Stanley Cup Final with fans who chuck items on the ice after a win.

The Golden Knights have a movement that is growing in popularity with the club in the championship series for the second time in six seasons.

It’s the victory flamingo. 

Fans occasionally toss pink plastic birds onto the ice after Golden Knights wins at T-Mobile Arena, adding to the ever-growing NHL custom of throwing items in victory. 

With Vegas in the finals, more and more flamingos are being spotted. The birds landed in the bright lights after the Golden Knights won both Games 1 and 2 to open their series against the Panthers. 

MORE: Why do Panthers fans throw rats on the ice?

But how did it all start? The Sporting News explains the origin of Vegas’ unique custom. 

Why do Golden Knights fans throw flamingos on the ice? 

The flamingo tradition has been around since 2018, Vegas’ first season in the NHL. 

Drew Johnson, a fan originally from Nashville, decided to bring a pink plastic flamingo to a Golden Knights game in March 2018. The team entered the contest against the Flames losers of their last two games and Johnson wanted to help motivate the club. 

So when the Golden Knights scored first, he flung his flamingo onto the ice. 

“The game was really close, and Colin Miller scored, and I threw the flamingo, hoping that it would create some more good vibes and kind of rally the team,” Johnson said in a 2018 interview with Las Vegas television station KTNV. “And after that, we went on to just dominate the rest of the game. (Marc-Andre) Fleury had a shutout and (William) Karlsson had a hat trick, so it ended up being one of the best ones of the year, and I like to think that throwing a plastic flamingo on the ice had a little something to do with that.”

The tradition caught on immediately. Vegas went on to win the Pacific Division and the Western Conference that season. But the power of the pink flamingo could not produce a Stanley Cup title as the Golden Knights lost to the Capitals in the finals. 

MORE: Adin Hill’s paddle stop in Game 1 draws parallels to Braden Holtby’s stop vs. Vegas in 2018 SCF

Buy why a flamingo?

“It’s kitschy, it’s fun,” Johnson said. “We’ve got the Flamingo Road, The Flamingo Hotel and Casino, but more than anything, it’s just bright, it’s easy to throw, it’s fun. It’s something that kids can bring to the arena and throw on ice. And so I thought it really encapsulated Vegas in a cool way, without throwing a dead animal on the ice.”

Animals, real and fake, are at the center of a number of traditions around the NHL. The Red Wings have the octopus, the Predators have the catfish, and the Panthers have the plastic rats, which could be on display during this year’s Stanley Cup Final. Johnson has added another one to the list with his rallying cry.

The victory flamingo, which even has a Twitter account, isn’t limited to Vegas. The artificial birds may not be thrown onto the ice surface, but the bright pink can be seen in away arenas when the Golden Knights are in town. 

MORE: How tall is Golden Knights defenseman Nicolas Hague?

“To see a flamingo in Ottawa or some of these places I’ve never seen a game at, it’s really, really neat to know that it sort of extends so much further than just some dopey middle-aged guy throwing a plastic flamingo on the ice,” Johnson said.



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