Livescore Friday, April 12
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It’s been quite some time since the rats have frequented the ice surface at Panthers home games.

However, with Florida making a run in the 2023 NHL playoffs, one of the best traditions has been brought back into the national spotlight. 

Every team has certain customs involved at home games, and for some, it involves chucking items onto the ice. The Red Wings have an octopus thrown on the ice. The Predators have a catfish. 

For the Panthers, it’s black, plastic rats.

For older Panthers fans, the return of the rats brings back fond memories of the past and the last time the club made it to a Stanley Cup Final. 

For new and younger hockey fans, it could leave them confused as to why there are toy rodents being tossed from the stands. 

NHL PLAYOFFS: FULL BRACKET | PREDICTIONS | POWER RANKINGS

The Sporting News explains why Panthers fans throw rats on the ice and the history behind the tradition. 

Why do Panthers fans throw rats on the ice?

The tradition of the rats goes back to the 1995-96 NHL season, Florida’s third year in the league after being added as an expansion team. 

On Oct. 8, 1995, the Panthers were getting set for a matchup against the Flames. Prior to the game, a rat entered Florida’s locker room, causing a ruckus for the players. Panthers captain Scott Mellanby took his stick and smashed the rodent against the wall. 

That night, using the same stick as he did to take care of the rat, Mellanby potted two goals. It led to goaltender John Vandiesbrouck saying after the game that Mellanby had scored a “rat trick,” a variation of the common hockey term “hat trick.”

The next night, a plastic rat was thrown onto the ice. Then, a few days later, more rats were tossed onto the surface. Eventually, it became a tradition for Panthers fans to throw plastic rats on the ice after every Florida goal. It got so much momentum that the Panthers partnered with Orkin, a pest control company, to have men in their extermination gear come onto the ice and collect the rats. 

Miami Arena became one of the more hostile environments for opponents and their goaltenders. The term, “Year of the Rat”, was dubbed as a result. 

The Panthers went on a magical run that season. Florida made it to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Behind the work of Vandiesbrouck in net, the Panthers defeated the Bruins in the first round, upset the No. 1 seed Flyers in the second and knocked off the No. 2 seed Penguins in seven games during the Eastern Conference Final. 

Unfortunately for the Panthers, the magic ran out in the Stanley Cup Final. Florida failed to win a single game against Colorado, getting swept in the championship series by the Avalanche. 

That season created one of the best traditions in hockey, and it’s good to see the rats come back to South Florida. 



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