The lengths 15-year-old Jack Merritt went to in order to smuggle a crab into the Stanley Cup Finals could make for their own 30-for-30 (once all the good ideas have been exhausted).
According to the Washington Post, Merritt’s grandmother last week surprised him with tickets Game 3, which was on Saturday. Merritt’s first thought, naturally, was about seafood. Specifically, which kind of seafood he would be able to bring into the game for the purpose of throwing it onto the ice, as one does.
“I was thinking seafood, because in Detroit and Nashville they throw the octopi and catfish,” Merritt said. “I thought a crab was perfect to represent our area.”
Indeed, sea creatures and hockey go way back. The tradition of Red Wings fans throwing octopi on the ice originated in the 1950s, when the eight-legged talisman was symbolic of the number of playoff wins needed to secure the Stanley Cup. Since 2003, Nashville Predators fans have thrown catfish on the ice to celebrate big moments.
Now, it should be noted that you’re not technically allowed to do this. You can’t just bring seafood into hockey arenas and throw it into the ice — not if arena security has anything to say about it.
You have to smuggle it.
Merritt knew all this, but he didn’t know the ins and outs of smuggling seafood into sports arenas, so he reached out to an aging veteran, 20-year-old known crab-thrower Ryan Henkin.
“I wanted to see if I would get in trouble,” Merritt said. “He kind of gave me some tips for how to pull it off.”
The tips were simple. First, you need the freshest crab you can find, because the less fresh ones will shatter on impact. Second, you need to get creative about where you store the crab. Merritt went the underwear route, a tactic employed for ages by people smuggling small amounts of drugs onto airplanes.
Merritt opted for the latter method; he placed his crab in a quart-size Ziploc bag and stuffed it between two pairs of underwear. His Capitals jersey helped conceal the bulge.
The crab was already dead by this point. It had been steamed, seasoned with Old Bay that fans next to Merritt could smell, and sold for $6 by Bethesda Crab House. As time ticked down, Merritt slipped into the 100s section, waited for the final buzzer, and launched.
As the horn sounded, Merritt tossed the crab over the glass. It only lost one claw when it hit the ice and came to a rest in Alex Ovechkin’s “office” inside the left faceoff circle. Capitals players paid it no mind as they gathered to celebrate their win with Braden Holtby.