A cellphone video of last week’s suspension-inducing melee between the Flin Flon Bombers and Weyburn Red Wings has gone viral – and revved up fans of the Maroon and White.
Bomber fan Tim Babcock’s footage of the Wednesday, March 23 incident had over 200,000 views across three different websites as of Monday.
Babcock says he started shooting the video because he wanted to show friends who had never been to a game at the Whitney Forum what the atmosphere is like when the Bombers win.
But the triumphant vibe was interrupted when a Weyburn player attempted to make off with a severed moose leg tossed onto the ice in celebration. A bench-clearing scuffle ensued, leaving three Bombers and four Red Wings suspended.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Babcock said.
“It’s kind of the equivalent of somebody trying to steal the octopus in Detroit. You just don’t do it,” he said, referring to that city’s hockey tradition of throwing octopi carcasses on the ice after the NHL’s Red Wings win.
In the video, Bombers forward Brandon Switzer takes notice of the attempted theft and zips down the ice to intervene, but he is knocked down. Then the scuffle ensues.
Babcock uploaded the nearly three-and-a-half-minute video to Facebook, initially just for friends to see. It sparked such interest that he made the clip public.
By Monday, the video had 117,000 views on Facebook and 45,000 views on YouTube. Someone also gave the link to TSN’s website, which included it on its BarDown hockey blog page, where it had another 43,000 views.
As BarDown staff wrote: “Who knew a severed moose leg could create so much drama after a drama after a hockey game? You can do a lot of things in Flin Flon, Manitoba, but stealing the Bombers [sic] moose leg is simply not one of them.”
Babcock says dozens of other hockey blogs have referenced the video. The Toronto Sun and CBC.ca are among the media outlets that have written about the incident.
But the video is one of countless recordings of hockey mayhem available online. Why are so many people flocking to this clip?
“I think that this one’s drawing attention because they’re fighting over a moose leg,” said Babcock, a Flin Flon city councillor. “People are curious to know, why is there a moose leg on the ice in the first place, and why is it important that players are willing to risk [physical altercation to take it back]?”
He notes that the video shows a lot of jersey-grabbing but few actual punches. It’s nothing compared to the infamous 1999 brawl between the Bombers and Estevan Bruins, a game televised on cable access with Babcock providing the colour commentary.
“The brawl in ’99 was way worse,” Babcock said. “There were players climbing the glass, swinging sticks at the fans. There were people being punched on the ice and off the ice.”
Coincidentally, a friend of Babcock’s recently loaded a clip of the 1999 brawl onto Facebook. The day before last Wednesday’s melee, Babcock shared the 17-year-old video on the social-media site.
As for the more recent incident, Babcock says he backs Switzer 100 per cent in ensuring the moose leg remained where it belonged.
“You don’t mess with tradition,” he said.
“It’s a rallying point for the Bombers, and Weyburn tried to make it a rallying point for their team and get under the skin of the Bombers. But I think it completely backfired in every way possible.”
Indeed the incident has galvanized Bomber fans. It quickly inspired t-shirts bearing the words “Don’t Mess With The Moose Leg.” The “o” in “Don’t” is a Bombers logo, and a cartoon image of a moose leg appears below “Mess.”
Some fans were seen wearing the shirts when the Bombers eliminated the Red Wings from the playoffs last Saturday, March 26 in Weyburn.