For decades, sports teams have used mascots to liven up the atmosphere of their respective field, rink, or stadium. While today’s professional sports leagues don’t usually use real animals to represent their team’s pride (in the early days of mascots, sports teams would bring in live animals, oftentimes predators, that would be used as an intimidation factor), mascots are still a fun part of anyone’s trip to see a game.
To many (young fans in particular), the mascot is an essential part of a team’s home arena – especially in a sport that draws out as much emotion as hockey does. Thus, having a good mascot can be a crucial part of a spectator’s trip to see their favorite team.
So, it’s time we stacked the league’s mascots up against one another, to see who will reign supreme as the league’s top mascot, and who might want to consider retiring in favor of a new one.
Here’s the NHL’s Power Rankings: Mascot Edition.
#27: Louie – St. Louis Blues
The biggest disappointment out of all the NHL’s mascots comes from St Louis. Louie is, in every sense of the word, bland. His boring, light-blue polar bear appearance comes straight out of a cheesy children’s cartoon, and has nothing to do with the St Louis Blues at all. Around town, Louie has earned the accurate-yet-painful nickname “Victory Dog”, due to his generic appearance.
The St Louis Blues are in desperate need of a new mascot – almost as desperate as their need to get out of the first round of the playoffs.
#26: Thunderbug – Tampa Bay Lightning
Thunderbug escaped the last spot in our power rankings ever so slightly, but make no mistake – he is still a pretty terrible mascot. His weird, yellow, black, red, and white face (while being rather creepy) doesn’t relate to Tampa Bay’s color theme, and just looks flat-out bad. Tampa Bay has a pretty cool team name, and they certainly could’ve done much better than Thunderbug.
#25: Carlton the Bear – Toronto Maple Leafs
Hot take: If you’re not the Boston Bruins, you probably shouldn’t be using a bear as your mascot. St. Louis and Toronto show us just that.
While Carlton’s name and number origin keep him from rock-bottom on our list (Carlton’s name, as well as his #60 come from the location of Maple Leaf Gardens, which is located on 60 Carlton St. in Toronto), his generic white bear appearance is extremely underwhelming. In a town that crazes for hockey as much as any other city, you’d think the Leafs would be able to pull off a cool mascot, despite the fact that their name may be difficult to work with.
#23: Sparky the Dragon – New York Islanders
Sparky the Dragon would be a bad enough mascot even if you didn’t know about Sparky’s short-lived retirement, and desperate return. In September of last year, it was announced that
the character straight out of Dragon Tales Sparky, who had formerly been the mascot of the New York Dragons arena football team before becoming the Islanders’ mascot, would not return to the Barclays Center this season.
However, poor ticket sales to kick off the season brought on the return of Sparky. Luckily, Sparky was kind enough to pull a Brett Favre and come out of retirement, despite being shunned by the Barclays Center just months prior.
#23: Stormy – Carolina Hurricanes
While Stormy’s name is the first on our list that really indicates which team he represents, he’s still fallen to the bottom part of our power rankings. After moving from Hartford to Carolina, the Hurricane’s supposedly considered becoming the “Ice Hogs.” While this never became reality, the team carried on the Ice Hog theme by making their mascot an ice hog.
Let’s be real, Carolina, you can do better. Much, much better.
#22: Iceburgh – Pittsburgh Penguins
Iceburgh’s weird face could put him pretty low on the list, however, his spectacular name has kept him from the depths of the power rankings. A fantastic play on the words “iceberg” “Pittsburgh”, Iceburgh plays into the Penguins theme. Although, it is a bit underwhelming to discover that Iceburgh looks almost identical to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton mascot, Tux.
#21: Bernie – Colorado Avalanche
While it’s certainly hard to find a fittng mascot for the ‘Avalanche’, sticking with their old yeti theme may have been the best choice.
However, Bernie does sport a pretty cool #1, in the shape of a bone, of course, which scores him a few points.
#20: Stinger – Columbus Blue Jackets
Stinger is one of those mascots that may be more likely to scare children away than draw them in. With a weird green face and somewhat creepy red eyes that look like tomatoes, Stinger certainly isn’t the type of mascot that I’d expect to see small children running up to. The hockey stick shaped eyebrows do score Stinger some points, but he doesn’t quite match the level of excitement that Columbus’ cannon brings to the table.
That concludes the lower portion of our mascot power rankings. Stay tuned for Part II, which will feature mascots 19-11, and Part III, where we will unveil who holds the crown as the NHL’s best mascot.
If you feel your mascot was done a disservice, you can yell at Cam on Twitter @CamHasbrouck and The Hockey Writers @TheHockeyWriter
Cam is a Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Maryland. He’s the Boston Bruins Beat Writer at The Hockey Writers, and is an avid college hockey fan. Find him on Twitter @CamHasbrouck!