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Why do Florida Panthers fans throw plastic rats on the ice? Here's how this tradition got started.

How did the rats on the ice tradition begin for the Panthers?
How did the rats on the ice tradition begin for the Panthers? 02:23

MIAMI – The Florida Panthers have won the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history by beating the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night in Game 7 of the championship series. The Cats won the series by 4 to 3. 

That victory was accompanied by one of the longest-standing traditions for Panthers fans and one of the strangest the NHL has ever seen: it has to do with plastic rats. 

Since the 1996 Stanley Cup season, fans have littered the ice with rats following every win.

Scott Mellanby, his hockey stick and a real rat in the locker room

The legendary tradition has its beginnings traced back to Oct. 8, 1995.

The Panthers were preparing for their home opener against the Calgary Flames after dropping the season opener the day before in New Jersey.

While waiting to take the ice in the locker room, Panthers fan favorite Scott Mellanby spotted a rat scurrying across the locker room floor.

Mellanby took his hockey stick and one-timed the rat across the dressing room, killing it. He then took that stick and scored two goals in Florida's 4-3 win.

Following the game, then Panthers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck told the rat story to reporters and dubbed Mellanby's two-goal game a "rat trick."

Within the next couple weeks, fans began throwing rubber rats on the ice following every Panthers goal.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Florida went on an epic run all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals and the rat-throwing became a national story.

It got to the point where during the finals the Panthers deployed a team of 25 rat collectors to pick up the ridiculous amounts of fake rats on the ice after every goal.  A pest control company even sponsored the collection team.

The Panthers and their amazing run to the finals quickly became known as "The Year of the Rat."

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