As the Nashville Predators attempt to hoist the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, a devoted fan may be facing some legal trouble due to a long-standing tradition. During the second period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, a Predators fan threw a (dead) catfish on the ice. Now he’s been charged with “disorderly conduct, possessing instruments of crime and disrupting meetings and processions,” according to ESPN.com.
Jacob Waddell, a 36 year old Predators fan from nearby Nolensville, Tennessee, had an elaborate plan to smuggle the catfish into PPG Paints Arena, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Smuggle, conceal, throw.
Waddell, like any true Predators fan, did not settle for a catfish bought in Pittsburgh. He bought the catfish at a Tennessee market and placed it in a cooler for the ride to Pittsburgh. Once in Pennsylvania, he filleted the fish and ran it over with his truck, to flatten it and better conceal it. Finally, he hid it over his underwear but under a pair of compression shorts and baggier shorts. At 9:30PM, he hurled the fish onto the ice, before being escorted out by police.
A Nashville tradition
Predators fans have been throwing catfish onto the ice since the early 2000s, placing a Tennessean twist on the Detroit Red Wings tradition of throwing a dead octopus onto center ice. However, Predators’ head coach Peter Laviolette has urged fans to restrain themselves, as the dead fish cause game stoppages and can be potentially dangerous if they hit a player or an official.
While fans, city council members and attorneys have pledged to come to Waddell’s legal aid, a disorderly conduct charge should not be taken lightly. Even though laws vary from state to state—and Waddell was charged in Pennsylvania—any arrest on your record can leave a mark. In Tennessee, depending on the severity of the charge, punishment for disorderly conduct can range from fines to jail time. More severe disruptions can even result in felony charges and prison time.
So, while throwing catfish is a Nashville tradition, perhaps it’s not always legally advisable.