When I posted that photo of the crab on the ice from the Baltimore Hockey Classic, the questions poured in: who threw it, and why, and was the crab seasoned with Old Bay?
Luckily, this is the Internet age, and so before the day was done I was talking to Ryan Henkin, the 20-year old Baltimore native and hockey fanatic who had fired that crustacean onto the ice.
The short answer? It was a male blue crab that was steamed and, yes, seasoned with Old Bay; Henkin bought it for $1.75 from a Mars supermarket in Dundalk.
The larger question, I suppose, is why.
“We were talking about different things to do for the game, to keep it Baltimore-related,” Henkin told me. “I couldn’t find a Skipjacks jersey, so I actually wore a high-school jersey. Then I said ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if I threw a crab?’ ”
This started as a joke, as such things do, but his friends egged him on, so Henkin — a former high school goalie who bought his tickets to the Classic back in April — agreed. He went to a local Mars, where crabs are sold by the dozen, and requested just a single creature.
“Why are you getting just one?” the lady asked him.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” he responded.
“We get some good ones,” she assured him, and so he told her he was going to go throw it on the ice at a hockey arena.
“They all thought I was crazy,” he recalled.
Obviously, there’s a proud tradition of such stunts, from the famous octopi in Detroit to the more recent trend of plastic rats on the ice in Florida, plastic snakes on the ice in Phoenix, waffles on the ice in Toronto and even a shark on the ice in San Jose.
Crabs, though, might be a relatively new one. Ryan kept the crab in the seafood counter’s packaging, and then tucked it inside an empty Halls coughdrops bag and put it in his girlfriend’s purse. When security at 1st Mariner Arena checked the purse, he and his best friend had to step away to keep from laughing. The crab made it through unscathed.
The big moment was supposed to coincide with the Caps’ first goal, but the home team was, of course, shut out. Plus, there was netting in front of Ryan’s section at the arena. The thought crossed his mind that maybe this wasn’t meant to be.
But Ryan’s 10-year old brother — who was sitting elsewhere in the arena — was gesturing in frustration, and what else was he going to do with one crab in a bag of coughdrops, so when “Unleash the Fury” came on in the third period, Ryan walked down his section, across an aisle, down another section and threw the beast.
He expected he would be removed from the arena. But no one said anything, so he just went back to his seat and watched the rest of the game.
And look, maybe the Classic — which featured a crab claw in its logo — was marred by the bad ice and the lack of goals. But it brought together two cities that have agreed to root for one hockey team. And Ryan — whose dad was a longtime Baltimore hockey fan, who has rooted for the Caps since before the lockout — was a part of it.
“I just wanted to do something that [linked] hockey and Baltimore. I’ve always been a fan of both,” he said. “I don’t feel too much animosity between the two cities. I love the Capitals, I love that it’s a close drive to go down and watch them, and having the best player in the world on the team helps. There’s no real hockey rivalry here, so everybody just kind of goes with the Caps.”
As for the crab, “something special to tell the kids one day,” he joked.