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Friday, February 10, 2017

NHL Team Mascots Part 1

By Matt Boulton (own work)
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)].
via Flickr

The first current NHL team mascot to be introduced was Harvey the Hound of the Calgary Flames. His debut game was February 16th, 1984 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Many teams were inspired by Harvey and they soon began adopting mascots of their own. Today, 28 out of 30 NHL teams have a mascot. Only the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers are without. The Flyers briefly had a mascot, Slapshot, but he was retired after the 1976 season. The most recent mascot to be introduced is Hunter of the Edmonton Oilers. He was introduced in September 2016.

Al the Octopus (Detroit Red Wings): This is the only non-costumed mascot of the NHL. In 1952, Pete and Jerry Cusimano, local fish merchants, threw a real octopus onto the ice during a playoff game. The eight legs of the octopus were meant to symbolize the eight victories that were necessary to win a Stanley Cup back then. It then became a tradition for fans to throw an octopus on the ice during home Red Wings games during the playoffs. This led to the creation of Al the Octopus in 1995.

Bailey (Los Angeles Kings): A 6 foot tall lion who wears the number 72. He replaced the original Kings mascot, Kingston, in 2007. He was named after Garnet “Ace” Bailey, who served as the Kings’ Director of Pro Scouting and was a former NHL player. Ace was killed during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when the plane he was on hit the World Trade Center.

Bernie the St. Bernard (Colorado Avalanche): Bernie, short for Bernard, is a 6’5” St. Bernard dog. He made his debut on October 3rd, 2009 in a game against the Vancouver Canucks. He is the Avalanche’s second mascot, replacing Howler the Yeti.

Blades the Bruin (Boston Bruins): A bear that made his debut on October 28th, 2000, when he was named by a young fan, Jillian Dempsey. Some more recent Bruins TV and online advertising has featured a different, more lifelike mascot known only as “The Bear”.

Carlton the Bear (Toronto Maple Leafs): A 6’4” polar bear. He made his debut on October 10th, 1995 at the Leafs’ home opener against the New York Islanders. He wears the number 60. He received his name and number because the Leafs’ original home arena, Maple Leaf Gardens, was located at 60 Carlton Street in Toronto.

Fin the Whale (Vancouver Canucks): A 6’3” orca whale. He was first introduced for the 2001-2002 season, when a contest was held to choose his name. He is the first official mascot of the Canucks. He can often be seen shooting steam from his blowhole and beating on a drum during games.

Gnash (Nashville Predators): A saber-tooth tiger that made his debut on October 10th, 1998, during the Predators opening night. The tiger mascot was chosen due to the discovery of a saber-tooth tiger skeleton that was dug up during construction of the First American National Bank in Nashville in 1971.

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