The octopus first made it's appearance on April 15, 1952, during the Red Wings' Stanley Cup playoff run.
Two Detroit brothers, Pete and Jerry Cusimano, who owned a fishmongers in the Eastern Market, threw one on the ice at Olympia Stadium. Each tentacle of the octopus was symbolic of a win in the playoffs. Back then, the NHL consisted of just the origional six teams, and eight wins (two best-of-seven series) were needed to win the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings swept the series that year, and the Octopus has come to be the good luck charm ever since.
The tradition carried over to Joe Louis Arena on opening night in 1979 when several of the cepholopods found their way onto the ice.
During the 1995 playoffs, Bob Dubisky and Larry Shotwell, co-workers at a meat and seafood retail company near Detroit, tossed a 38-pound octopus onto the ice during the National Anthem prior to Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The year after, the duo struck again with a 50-pounder in the Conference Finals. Although the feat received no air time on the nationally broadcast game, the octopus was proudly displayed on the hood of the Zamboni between periods.