Often the most sought after and famous member of any NHL organization is the teams mascot. Fans young and old are often able to recognize a mascot long before a player at off ice events. The mascot readies the crowd and attends events throughout the community year round. It is tough work, especially in the NHL with the added ice and skating component. Although you may never see another teams mascot in the wild, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to be prepared in the event that you do. Here is a look at some of the most notorious mugs in the National Hockey League.
Al the Octopus, Detroit Red Wings: It can be a tough life when you have 8 legs and 80,000 adoring fans. In keeping with a Red Wing tradition, fans would throw an octopus on the ice at Joe Lewis arena for good luck before games. The Zamboni driver Al Sabotka would then scoop up the octopus and spin it over his head. NHL commissioner Gery Bettman banned this act in 2008 and in 2011 banned fans from throwing octopus on ice (it still hasn’t seemed to stop Red Wings faithful). This is where the Red Wings mascot comes in; named after the beloved Zamboni driver Al Sabotka. Al the Octopus hangs from the rafters and garners support from his fan base. Al is also the only NHL mascot that isn’t a costumed character.
Bailey, Los Angeles Kings: Rivaling the height statistics of the players for which he represents; Bailey is a 6 ft tall, 6 ft 4″ if you include his ferocious mane, lion. Named in honor of the Kings long time scouting coach Garnet “Ace” Bailey who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. While Bailey might instill fear in his opposing teams mascots, he brings smiles to the fans in sunny Los Angeles, California.
Bernie, Colorado Avalanche: A perfect mascot for the snowy Colorado weather; Bernie is a giant St. Bernard dog. Wearing a #1 in the shape of dog bone on his jersey, this mascot is a fans best friend.
Blades, Boston Bruins: After skyrocketing to mascot fame following the Bruins Stanley Cup win in the 2010-11 season; Blades the bear still remains one of the most charitable mascots in the league. Never hibernating, not even in the off season, Blades attends countless events to support the Bruins Foundation. Rivaling Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara, Blades wears a size 13 skate and XXXL jersey.
Carlton, Toronto Maple Leafs: Although polar bears are known to be ferocious, Carlton is anything but — Standing at a mere 6’4”, Carlton has supported his team at home and occasionally on the road. In addition, he can be credited for bringing NHL mascots together as he was the chair for the first annual mascot summit at the 50th NHL All Star Game which took place at his home in Toronto. Talk about a team player!
Fin, Vancouver Canucks: Fin is a killer whale, but their is nothing killer about this mascot beyond his personality. A fan favorite, Fin is also a key player in various charitable events around the Vancouver community. One of the most important components in the mascot job description is a love of children and Fin shows that love throughout the year.
Gnash, Nashville Predators: This saber-tooth tiger risks his 9 lives almost every game while performing tricks around the arena. Repelling from the rafters and buzzing around on an ATV are just a few of the reasons why Nashville’s fans love their mascot.
Harvey, Calgary Flames: He ain’t nothing but a hound dog, cheering all the time. The oldest mascot in the league, Harvey clocks in at 6’ 6”. Like many dogs, Harvey hasn’t always lived the good life. Oilers Coach Craig MacTavish ripped out his tongue during an altercation a few years back. The incident hasn’t stopped Harvey from supporting his Flames and earning countless awards for being one of the best mascots in the league.
Howler, Phoenix Coyotes: Not a lot is known about the coyote mascot, although various reports state that he is the snappiest dresser in the league. Howler can often be seen in different costumes throughout a single game.
Iceburgh, Pittsburgh Penguins: Another mascot that has been around for quite some time is Iceburgh the Penguin. Revving up fans of the Penguins franchise is all in a days work for this mascot who probably enjoys the ice more than other mascots in the league.
Louie, St. Louis Blues: Being a polar bear can be tough. Perhaps it’s why this hot dog loving mascots fur is the appropriate color for the team he supports.
Mick E. Moose, Winnipeg Jets: While many of his other colleagues were NHL’ers from the start, Mick E. Moose had to put in 15 seasons of hard work in the AHL before finally getting the call up to the big show. Proving that he’s a valuable asset to the team, Mick E. Moose proudly wears his jersey and helmet to cheer on the Jets.
N.J. Devil, New Jersey Devils: This mascot could be seen as a big devil. Running through the arena, signing autographs and garnering cheers for his home team. Being such a good mascot is sure to never put him in H-E-double hockey sticks.
Nordy, Minnesota Wild: This mascot is an undefined species, perhaps a hybrid breed of its own. Not a lot is known about Nordy, he’s the lockness monster of mascots.
Sabretooth, Buffalo Sabres: You can never have too many of the same species in the NHL. With bears a plenty throughout the teams; Sabretooth is another sabre-tooth tiger. Instead of living in the musically cultural Nashville, Sabretooth lives up near the Canadian border in Buffalo, New York. Much like Gnash, Sabretooth is known to drop from the rafters onto the ice, propels t-shirts into the stands from a bazooka and ride around on a 4 wheeler. Oh, the life of a mascot. This could be one of the hardest working mascots in the league, for a few years he did double time by cheering on the Buffalo Bandits indoor lacrosse team as well.
S.J. Sharkie, San Jose Sharks: It’s shark week all season in San Jose with the extremely animated team mascot S.J. Sharkie. This shark is one of the most acrobatic in the league and can be seen dropping onto the ice, skating through the giant shark head pre game and running around the arena to greet fans. Rumor has it that S.J. Sharkie is a real ham with a sense of humor.
Slapshot, Washington Capitals: An appropriately named mascot, Slapshot the bald eagle represents the Washington Capitals in the nations capital. Cheering on his team since 1995 hasn’t slowed down this mascot or his slapshot!
Sparky, New York Islanders: With a tail in the shape of a hockey stick, Sparky the Dragon is ready to play at a moments notice. Sparky is another mascot who has done double time in another league. Up until 2009 he had cheered on both the Islanders and the New York Dragons Arena Football team.
Spartacat, Ottawa Senators: This giant cuddly lion is an active member of the Ottawa community and can be seen bringing smiles to fans of all ages. Spartacat has quite the personality and he strives to bring happiness to local hockey teams, libraries and hospitals when he can. This mascot was a one lion welcoming committee when the NHL All Star Weekend skated into town this past January 2012; even showing hospitality to his arch nemesis Carlton from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Stanley C. Panther, Florida Panthers: Named after hockey’s holy grail, the Stanley Cup. Stanley C. Panther splits his mascot duties with “Mini Stanley” a smaller version of himself that caters to the young Panthers fans.
Stinger, Columbus Blue Jackets: This is one yellow jacket that you’ll never step on. Buzzing in at 6’9” Stinger can be found stinging the hearts of Blue Jackets fans all over Ohio. When you’re as loved as Stinger it’s not so tough to be a bug.
Stormy, Carolina Hurricanes: Perhaps a strange choice for a mascot, Stormy the ice hog can be seen hogging the crowd in North Carolina at all home games.
Tommyhawk, Chicago Blackhawks: Dressed in hockey pants and a jersey, Tommyhawk the hawk also wears the 4 feathers that represent the team on his head. Like his other mascot colleagues Tommyhawk attends events throughout the community although he prefers skating to flying as a mode of transportation.
Wildwing, Anaheim Ducks: Wild indeed, driving an ATV through a ring of fire is just another day for the Ducks mascot. Resembling the cartoon duck from Mighty Ducks the TV series, Wildwing adds flare to an already loved franchise thanks to Disney.
Youppi!, Montreal Canadiens: Forget switching teams, this mascot switched leagues. From 1979-2004 Youppi! was the king of the diamond cheering on the Montreal Expos baseball team. When the team left Montreal and their mascot behind; the Canadiens stepped up to the plate and taught Youppi! what it means to be a real mascot. A giant neon orange fluff ball; Youppi! meaning Yippee in french has been cheering excitedly for his hockey team ever since.
A mascot is an easy way to gain fan support both inside and outside of the arena; but some teams don’t have a mascot to call their own. Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are the four NHL teams with no one to love.
Surely Dallas fans would love to have a giant star that lasso’d the opposing teams fans, maybe the Rangers could get behind supporting a life sized Statue of Liberty who donned a hockey helmet. The Flyers could use any bird or even steal the eagle concept from the Capitals. When it comes down to the Oilers, perhaps it’s easy to see why this team doesn’t have a mascot. Animals don’t really take well to oil.
Mascots make the game more enjoyable from a fans perspective and they always have a never ending line of support waiting to take photos or get autographs. The mascot is often the most famous face on the team. Giant over sized creatures, bringing NHL fans together since the early 80’s.
[All mascot photos were taken from their NHL affiliates team websites]