Jaromir Jagr upset with Panthers' penalties for toy rats thrown on ice

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 9:31 PM

-- Giving far 10.000 toy rats to fans as they arrived at the arena was supposed to be a promotion for the FL Panthers. It turned into a problem instead.

Jaromir Jagr upset with Panthers' penalties for toy rats thrown on ice

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Giving far 10.000 toy rats to fans as they arrived at the arena was supposed to be a promotion for the Florida Panthers.

It turned into a problem instead.

The Panthers were penalized twice in the third period of Thursday'south 3-2 win over the NJ Devils because fans were throwing the rats onto the ice despite warnings not to do so. NJ didn't score on either resulting power play, but that wasn't sufficient to hold Panthers star Jaromir Jagr from saying after the game that he wasn't pleased with the situation.

"I don't really consent with the penalties," Jagr said after FL moved back into first space and on the brink of clinching the franchise'south second playoff spot in the past fifteen seasons. "We can always say, 'Hey, it was NJ fans throwing them, we should've the power play.' It'south too necessary a game, and it'south going to be more necessary in the playoffs. I don't think we should get two minutes for that. I think the league should do something about it."

Actually, the league did something about it -- two decades ago.

The Panthers' rat craze is a nod to the 1995-96 season, when, as the oft-repeated legend goes, Scott Mellanby killed a live one with his adhere in the locker room of the team'south former arena before going out and scoring two goals. The toy rats started flying in celebration in the games that followed, and after that season, the NHL changed its rules to declare that teams could be assessed minor penalties for such outbursts.

And that'south what happened Thursday, twice.

"It was a bonus for us to obtain those power plays on that," Devils coach John Hynes said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't discover a way to create them pay a bigger price for it... I think it'south tough for the players, for sure. There was a warning prior to it and it kept going. Tough situation. I think the fans were trying to have fun and do their thing, but if we capitalized on a couple of those power plays, it'south a tiny bit of a different game."

In recent years at Panthers' residence games, the rats typically fly after wins. But with 10.000 of them handed out before the game Thursday, there was concern that they might obtain thrown early.

Turned out, that concern was distant from unfounded.

"They called it love they were supposed to call it," said a visibly annoyed Panthers coach Gerard Gallant. "There'south nothing they can do. When we toss stuff on the ice, it'south the rule, it'south been the regulation for a long time, they've got to know better. I sure hope it doesn't happen again... We've got to be smarter than that."

Gallant was asked if he'd ask team management to not do such a giveaway in the future.

"That'south not my department," Gallant said. "But love I said, I hope the fans realize that these are necessary games and points for us. I hope they realize that you can't toss these rats until the finish of the game. It nearly cost us tonight. Our guys battled tough and we like our fans and we like the rats, but I hope that doesn't happen again."

Jagr'south fear is that it'll happen again, and not necessarily by Florida fans.

"If they're going to give us a penalty every time somebody throws a rat, then where are we going to play in the playoffs?" Jagr said. "They're just going to hire some guy to toss rats and obtain power plays all game. It doesn't create sense to me."

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