Arby's lowers threshold for free fries with Wings struggling

The Detroit Red Wings have the worst record (1-6-2) in the NHL after nine games, fulfilling the expectations of many who believed they'd be one of the league's worst teams as they rebuild. There may have been no greater harbinger of that futility than the newly established threshold for free curly fries in Detroit.

For more than a decade, Arby's has had a promotion in which fans could receive free curly fries if a Red Wings player scored a hat trick. In some cases, fans would go to participating restaurants and have to show a box score from the previous night's game as proof. In other cases, they could just say, "I'm here for the free Wings fries."

The promotion was so popular that Red Wings announcers would reference it after hat tricks. Fans even revolted when Arby's briefly swapped the fries for free sandwiches.

But it's difficult to give away free curly fries for a hat trick when, simply put, there are no hat tricks. No Detroit Red Wings player has scored three goals in a game this season or last season, when they finished 27th in the NHL with a 30-39-13 record and ranked 28th in goals scored (217). The team had only three hat tricks in its previous two seasons combined as well.

So Arby's decided to lower the bar this season for free fries. As first noted by hockey analytics blogger Prashanth Iyer, Arby's is now giving away free curly fries for any game in which the Red Wings overall, rather than an individual player, score three or more goals.

"We want to continue to reward fans and give them the best chance possible to get free Arby's Curly Fries," an Arby's spokesperson told ESPN via email. "After last season, we realized there were too few occurrences of Hat Tricks, leaving fans hungry for more Curly Fries. This year, we hope to reward our die-hard Arby's and Red Wings fans with a chance to savor our Curly Fries more often."

Better warm up those fryers. The Red Wings scored three or more goals in a game 39 times last season and have already hit the number three times this season.