After the brilliant NHL team logos as Game of Thrones Sigils hit the internet, it dawned on me that there are many similarities between the NHL and the world of Westeros. Both operate with one single, solitary goal in mind: win, by becoming king or effectively becoming king by winning the Stanley Cup. There are rivalries, hatred, backstabbing, scheming, gamesmanship, physical, and psychological elements that make both of them incredibly enjoyable to watch. So, if the two were combined, Game of Thrones NHL would look something like this…
Montreal Canadiens: House Targaryen
When considering the rich history of the NHL, the first name to come to mind will likely be the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens have won more Stanley Cups than any other franchise in history with 24. For perspective, the second and third place Leafs and Red Wings have a combined 24 cups between them. Despite their historical dominance, they have been largely absent in the recent fight for the Cup. They last won in 1993, twenty seasons ago. However, this postseason they showed they will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come, led by their three-headed monster of Price, Subban, and Pacioretty. In a few years, they very well may rule again.
Similarly, the Targaryens are the most famous rulers of the Seven Kingdoms. Originally from Valyria, their three dragons allowed them to take over Westeros in short order, where they ruled for over 500 years. The Targaryens are the rightful heir to the throne, and after being exiled due to King Robert’s Rebellion, they are coming back in force. Controlling thousands of Unsullied and three dragons, Danaerys Targaryen is poised to return to Westeros and take her rightful place on the Iron Throne in a few years.
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Boston Bruins: Masters of Slaver’s Bay
In recent memory, the Boston Bruins have been a dominating force in the Eastern Conference. They have won their division three of the last four years, amassing 384 points in the process. Next closest is the Canadiens with just 337. In dominating their opponents, the Bruins plays a physical, ruthless style of hockey, finishing in the top four in fighting majors in all four of those years. They rule over the now Atlantic Division with an iron fist. However, they fell to the underdog Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the 2013-14 playoffs.
At Slaver’s Bay, the masters ruled over their subjects with intimidation and violence. They sacrificed women as a means to try to intimidate Danaerys Targaryen before she overtook their cities. In the end, their violent tendencies ended up being their downfall as they were killed when Danaerys defeated them. An over-reliance on physicality was also the downfall of the Bruins, as they took too many undisciplined, stupid penalties against the Canadiens, eventually falling in seven games.
San Jose Sharks: House Greyjoy
Since the 2005-06 lockout, the Sharks have been dominant in the regular season. Boasting a deep and talented group of forwards, they appear to be poised to be a Stanley Cup contender every year (on paper). The reality has been much different. In the playoffs, the Sharks have showed the lack of spine resembling the marine creature they are named after. Their spine is instead made of flexible cartilage, and in the playoffs, it has broken under pressure many times. The Sharks are universally regarded as the biggest bunch of chokers in the NHL, never having made the Cup Finals despite a run of remarkable regular seasons. Their collapse against the Kings after being up 3-0 cemented their status as pretenders, not contenders.
Ruling over the Iron Islands, the Greyjoys have displayed a similar lack of spine, which they also share with their sigil, a kraken. Twice Balon Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Islands, has rebelled against the king, and twice he has lost and bent the knee in defeat to save his life. The Greyjoy motto is “We Do Not Sow”. However, Ramsay Bolton was able to turn Theon Greyjoy, the heir to the Iron Islands, to a feeble servant that follows his every command. No other house in Westeros takes them seriously.
Vancouver Canucks: House Tully
For years, the Canucks have been led by a pair of red-haired twins. With the Sedins on their roster, the Canucks showed that they were a legitimate Stanley Cup contender for a few years. But in recent times, they’ve fallen apart and are no longer considered a real power in the NHL. The Canucks logo and sigil of House Tully also bear a striking resemblance.
The members of the Tully family are famous for their auburn colored hair, just like the leaders of the Canucks. Similarly, they have fallen out of power in recent years and lost control of the Riverlands. After betraying the Starks at the Red Wedding, their fierce rivals the Freys (see below) now control the Riverlands, while the head of House Tully, Edmure, is their captive.
Chicago Blackhawks: House Frey
The Chicago Blackhawks are among the most successful NHL franchises of the past few years. After years of futility, they have put together a deep, talented group of forwards and tremendous top 4 on defense, led by Toews, Kane, and Keith. For the foreseeable future, they will be regarded as a serious cup contender. Through their deep playoff runs, they have developed a fierce rivalry with the Canucks. Many Red Wings (see below) fans believe Marian Hossa is a traitor for leaving Detroit to go to their then-division rival.
House Frey was able to become rich and powerful by collecting tolls because they hold the only bridge capable of crossing over the Twins, similar to the Blackhawks collecting talent due to high draft picks from poor regular season performances. The Freys hate the Tullys (Canucks), and finally have a leg up on them in terms of power. At the Red Wedding, Walder Frey betrayed the trust of the Starks and helped kill their leader and his mother, just like Hossa.
Detroit Red Wings: House Stark
Since the mid 1990s, the Red Wings have been seen as the model NHL franchise. They have played the game with class, skill, and have been incredibly successful. They did things the right way, replenishing their roster with late-round draft steals to compensate for their lack of high draft picks.
From 1992 to 2012, they were led by Nicklas Lidstrom, who many regard as one of the classiest players in NHL history. With Lidstrom, the Red Wings won four Stanley Cups. But since he retired in 2012, the Red Wings have won just one playoff series in two years. Marian Hossa spurned the Penguins and signed a one year deal with the Red Wings in an attempt to win a Cup. But, the Red Wings lost in the finals to those same Penguins, and Hossa left for their upstart, division rival Blackhawks. There is hope for the Red Wings, in the form of budding superstar Gustav Nyquist, who was one of the best players in the league in the second of this season.
After King Robert’s rebellion, Ned Stark was named the Warden of the North. Ruling from Winterfell, Stark was stern, honorable, and a fair ruler. He was universally respected around the kingdom like Lidstrom, and he ruled the largest territory of any of the seven Great Houses of Westeros. But when their leader Ned was beheaded, everything began to fall apart. At the Red Wedding, Robb and Catelyn Stark were betrayed by the Freys, as the Red Wings were betrayed by Hossa. Though they are no longer in control of the North, and their remaining family members are scattered throughout the kingdom, there is hope. Bran Stark has the power to warg into any living thing, an incredible ability that has unlimited possibilities.
Edmonton Oilers: White Walkers
At one point in time, the Edmonton Oilers were arguably the most dominant hockey team in history. At their peak, they shattered scoring records, and won five Stanley Cups in seven years. They were feared throughout the league for good reason. Residing the furthest north of any NHL team, the Oilers have become an afterthought in recent years, so much so that some have forgotten they exist. However, they have been sitting, waiting, and biding their time by gathering a plethora of elite young players. It is taking them a long time to put it together. But when they do, look out.
Far north beyond the wall, for thousands of years, the White Walkers have been waiting. 8,000 years before King Robert’s rebellion, the White Walkers descended upon Westeros and killed all in their path, until they were finally beaten back after a long, bloody conflict. Since then, they’ve become a myth, a legend that few in Westeros believe still exist. However, we have seen that the White Walkers have amassed an army of Wights, and are slowly descending upon the Wall to take over Westeros. They are not close yet, but when they are, Westeros better hope they stumble upon a mountain of dragonglass, the only thing capable of killing the White Walkers. Eventually, the White Walkers will make their return to the spotlight, as the Oilers eventually will with all their young talent.
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Wildlings
North of the border, the Maple Leafs have a loyal following like no other NHL team. They may have the largest following of any team in the NHL. They have a proud history, but in recent times, have struggled to contend for a Stanley Cup. They’ve won the second most cups with 13, but the last one came all the way back in 1967. Among other fan bases, the Leafs are the common butt of jokes due to their futility and sometimes homerish tendencies of their fans.
The Wildlings are a massive population of people living north of The Wall. They are less advanced politically and technologically, with little organization (pre Mance Rayder) and inferior weapon technology compared to those in the south. They have large numbers, but are not the smartest. The Seven Kingdoms see the Wildlings as an unorganized group of savages that are no threat. However, under Mance Rayder, they are becoming a threat. If the Leafs can continue to improve, led by Phil Kessel, maybe they’ll be a threat to contend for the cup, and their masses will be right there with them.
Steve Tambellini, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, John Ferguson Jr., Cliff Fletcher, Brian Burke, & Dave Nonis: The Night’s Watch
These seven men are the most recent general managers of the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. Under their watch, each of the teams has gone from a veteran roster that was not a true contender into a dumpster fire. Controversial trades, overpaying for free agents, questionable offer sheets, and missing on high draft picks has put both of these franchises in a poor position. The Oilers have had a string of #1 overall picks, with little to show for it in the win column. The Leafs showed potential, but after being the worst possession team in the league for most of the year, their luck caught up to them and they fell apart and missed the playoffs.
These men would be perfect for the Knight’s Watch because they have done a tremendous job of keeping the White Walkers (Oilers) and Wildlings (Maple Leafs) from breaching the wall and taking over Westeros (or winning the Cup). Their incompetence has kept the White Walkers and Wildlings from ascending to the Iron Throne, just as the Night’s Watch is supposed to.
Minnesota Wild: House Bolton
Arguably the biggest day in Wild history was when Ryan Suter and Zach Parise decided to leave the teams that drafted them in 2003, and sign in Minnesota. They did so after much fanfare, and the Devils and Predators fans thought they had been duped. Parise said he wanted to stay in New Jersey, was coming off of a Stanley Cup finals run, and was named captain of the Devils the offseason before. Ryan Suter’s agent assured David Poile that Suter was going nowhere in November of 2012. The Wild gained a lot from these deceptions. In the north (but below the border) they’ve shown that they are a budding contender with with their recent playoff performance.
The Boltons also gained a great deal from deception and backstabbing. For his part in cooperating with the Red Wedding, Roose Bolton became Warden of the North ahead of the Starks. His son, Ramsay, has been tricking and torturing Theon Greyjoy for nearly two seasons now. The Boltons, like the Wild, are a powerful force in the north, and gained most of that power through the deceptions of others.
New Jersey Devils: House Baelish
Since 1987, Lou Lamoriello has been the master manipulator running the New Jersey Devils. As their GM, Lamoriello has not been blessed with a large market team with a big checkbook that can be doled out to free agents. It is also not seen as a particularly ideal location for free agents. In Lamoriello’s time, the team gone through two ownership changes, and yet he remains there. It was Lamoriello that put all the pieces in place to perfect the trap during the clutch and grab era. Lamoriello recognized a trend in the league of clutch-and-grab, and he took full advantage of it to make his team successful and win multiple cups.
He is very intelligent, and does whatever it takes to make his team successful, including trying to circumvent the cap with the Ilya Kovalchuk contract. Despite having few high first round picks due to their success, the Devils have remained a contender for a long time. But since Zach Parise left the Devils for the Wild two years ago, they haven’t made the playoffs.
Just as Lamoriello may be the smartest GM in the NHL, Petyr Baelish may be the smartest man in King’s Landing. A master manipulator, Littlefinger was born to a small, insignificant house. However, with few resources at his disposal and everything working against him, he has risen to become an incredibly powerful man in Westeros. He is ruthless, and will stop at nothing to become king. His smarts and cunning ways have made him successful. However, like the Devils, his plans have been complicated by House Bolton (Wild) when Lord Bolton became Warden of the North ahead of the Starks for his part in the Red Wedding. Baelish’s seemingly impending marriage to Sansa Stark would have given him the North because everyone believes Bran and Rickon Stark are dead.
Pittsburgh Penguins: House Tyrell
In Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Pittsburgh Penguins have arguably the two best players in the NHL at their disposal. Since they both entered the league, they are #1 and #2 in points-per-game. In addition, they boast a stud number one defenseman in Kris Letang, and a nice stable of defensive prospects as well. However, the Penguins have been relatively unsuccessful, considering their talent level. It has also proven very difficult to find the proper linemates for Crosby and Malkin. Kunitz is a good one, and Neal, while dirty, is a quality scorer. However, there are rumors that Neal may want out, and nobody has seized the other winger positions.
In the Game of Thrones NHL, the Tyrells have two similarly talented, highly valued assets in Loras and Margaery Tyrell. Loris is a young, handsome, skilled knight. Margaery is a beautiful young noblewoman. However, the Tyrells haven’t been able to find a proper partner for either. Loras is secretly a “swordswallower”, and had no interest in women, despite their interest in him. Margaery was to be married twice, to two very powerful men in Renly Baratheon and Joffrey Baratheon, but both were killed before the marriage was consummated. If the Tyrells could find a proper partner for both, like the Penguins with Crosby and Malkin, their power and influence would grow significantly. Similarly, the Tyrells have a deep hatred for the Baratheons (see below) because it was Stannis Baratheon’s shadow baby that killed Loras’s lover, and Margaery’s future husband, Renly Baratheon.
Philadelphia Flyers: House Baratheon
As the general managers of the Flyers, Paul Holmgren would stop at nothing in his quest to win the Stanley Cup. He had a consistent win-now mentality, and would do whatever it took to reach that goal, whether it was big ticket free agents, offer sheets, or franchise-altering trades. However, the stoic, stern Holmgren was unable to achieve his goal of winning the Stanley Cup as GM. And as Holmgren watches the LA Kings just two wins from their second cup, led by former Flyers Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Justin Williams, he must be a bit bitter about all their success. In truth, Holmgren was more of a fighter like his time in the NHL, rather than a front office suit.
If Paul Holmgren were to have a Game of Thrones NHL equivalent, it would be Stannis Baratheon. Stannis is a warrior and battle commander at heart, not a charismatic king or politician. He is quiet, stern, and unforgiving. He believes he is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, similar to how Holmgren may believe he should have won cups in Philadelphia with Richards and Carter. Stannis will also go to any length to win the throne, resorting to a red priestess that worships the Lord of Light and uses dark magic to defeat his enemies. When Stannis fought against the Lannisters (see below) at the Battle of the Blackwater, he was fighting against soldiers that should have been his due to his true claim to the throne.
LA Kings: House Lannister
In the Game of Thrones NHL, the Kings being the King just makes too much sense. It may be too early to anoint them champions, but the Kings appear to have a stranglehold on the Stanley Cup final, up 2-0 on the Rangers. Their logo is the crown, and they have been one of the most dominant teams in the NHL over the past few years. They have a plethora of assets at their disposal, including one of the best goaltenders in the league, an elite #1 defenseman, and one of the deepest, most talented group of forwards in the NHL. The team was put together by Dean Lombardi through a number of shrewd trades, strong drafting, and a strong commitment to developing young players.
In Westeros, the Lannisters rule all. At Casterly Rock, they had the largest gold mines in the land at their disposal. They are the ruling family, as Tommen Baratheon is actually Tommen Lannister, the byproduct of incest within the family. They are led by Tywin Lannister, who is a master of manipulation, strategy, and deception, like Lombardi. At the Battle of the Blackwater, the Lannisters were able to survive the attack of Stannis Baratheon, when it looked like they were finished. The Kings showed similar resolve and beat the odds when they came back from down 3-0 to defeat the Sharks. They are hated by most, but don’t really care because they are successful.
Anaheim Ducks: House Martell
Located in southern California, the Ducks enjoy beautiful, warm weather and a successful team. They live a rich, lavish lifestyle in the warmth. The Ducks have a deep seated hatred for the LA Kings, who defeated them in the second round of the playoffs in a tense seven game series. After 14 seasons in Anaheim, the Ducks lost one of their most beloved players, and a living legend, Teemu Selanne.
As the Ducks suffered a loss in the form of Teemu Selanne, the Martells lost their most beloved member, Oberyn, killed in a trial by combat by Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. Dorne is also located in the southern-most part of Westeros. More than any other house, the Martells hate the Lannisters (Kings). They were responsible for the killing of Elia Martell, and share responsibility for the death of Oberyn.
Images of the House Sigils taken from HBO.