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RATTED OUT: NHL Tells Florida Panthers to Stop Selling Rats at Arena

RatsBY GEORGE RICHARDS grichards@MiamiHerald.com

TWITTER: @OnFrozenPond

Due to pressure from the NHL, the Panthers will no longer sell rubber rats at gift shops inside the BankAtlantic Center.

The issue isn't the few rats that have hit the ice after Florida goals but ones being thrown during play.

In the final minute of Florida's 3-0 win on Saturday a few rubber rodents hit the ice during a face off and again during a rush down the ice.

The Panthers – as the home team – can be hit with a delay of game penalty for the rats leading many to Rats3speculate it was fans of the Devils tossing the rats during play to give their team an advantage. 

Coach Kevin Dineen says game officials have not talked to the team about the possibility of a penalty.

"I think a lot of Devils fans have been buying them up,'' he said. "They're trying to get us that penalty. It's unfortunate. It's a part of our identity and something our fans throughly enjoy.

"We don't want to put the team or the league into a situation where they have to make a decision that could affect the actual outcome of the game. We love the enthusiasm. It just has to be directed in the right way.''

Team president Michael Yormark tweeted Tuesday that anyone tossing rats during a home game will be ejected.

Throwing them once a game is over isn't just OK – it's encouraged. The Panthers even dropped some rats Pararatfrom the rafters after Saturday's win via plastic parachutes. 

“During the play, it has to stop,'' Stephen Weiss said. “At the same time, it could be New Jersey fans doing it.

"[After goals] it takes two seconds to clean up. I like it. It's a tradition here and we haven't had it in about 10 years. You want to do it after the game, by all means go ahead. But we have to keep them off the ice during play.

"When you get close to 20,000 people in the arena, it's going to happen. Either you have to take them completely out of the arena and that's the only way you can totally stop it. We like it.''

Said Dineen: “Mr. Bettman may have made a phone call in the past day or two about ways we can make sure the flow of play continues until the final whistle.

"Probably the first step was stopping the selling of rats in our building.''