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.
#10: Victor E. Green – Dallas Stars
Unveiled less than two years ago, Victor E. Green is one of the NHL’s newer mascots. He is an alien from outer space, matching the Stars’ theme – however, he could look a little better, which keeps him out of our mascot elite. That being said, his creative name, a play on Dallas’ team color (victory green) secured him a spot in our top ten.
#9: Gnash – Nashville Predators
Gnash, who came to Nashville with the Preds back in 1998, was selected as the team’s mascot following archeological excavations at the First American Cave site in Nashville, where they discovered the partial skeleton of a saber-tooth cat. Gnash’s name, of course, is another play on his hometown.
#8: N.J. Devil – New Jersey Devils
N.J. Devil, who was unveiled back in 1993, is a perfect fit for New Jersey. The team, wich was named after the myth of the Jersey Devil, had an easy choice when it came time to pick a mascot. The Devil looks devilish enough without scaring away too many of the children.
#7: Slapshot – Washington Capitals
All things considered, Slapshot makes for pretty good mascot. The Bald Eagle theme definitely works for the team occupying our nation’s capital, and Slapshot is one good looking eagle.
#6: Blades the Bruin – Boston Bruins
It is said that Blades first took interest in hockey while watching Johnny Bucyk play pond hockey with neighborhood kids. Upon sneaking into Bucyk’s truck, Blades was brought to the old Boston Garden, where Bucyk fed him snacks from the concession stand. Blades is a charitable bear, and helps raise money for the Bruins Foundation.
#5: San Jose Sharkie – San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharkie, unveiled in 1992, finds the right balance between intimidation and friendliness. He once got stuck 40 feet in the air when repelling from the ceiling, and even has his own IMDB page.
#4: Mick E. Moose – Winnipeg Jets
The former mascot for the IHL’s Minnesota Moose, Mick E. Moose made the top of the list almost entirely because of his name, which clearly alludes to Mickey Mouse, but is safe enough to avoid a lawsuit. The moose character plays into the region’s wildlife, and looks pretty good doing it.
#3: Al the Octopus – Detroit Red Wings
Al, the only mascot in the league that is not costumed, chimes in at the number three spot because of his unrivaled backstory. Back in 1952, fish merchants threw an octopus onto the ice at the Olympia Ice Arena. The Octopus’ eight tentacles represented the eight wins that the Red Wings needed to secure the Stanley Cup. Since then, the tradition has continued, as fans at Joe Louis Arena toss octopus’ onto the ice, despite the fact that the NHL banned the practice in 2011, threatening a $500 fine. However, Johan Franzen stated that he would pay any fines that the fans received in order to continue the tradition.
Al is named after arena manager and Zamboni driver Al Sobotka, who picks up the octopuses and twirls them around his head (a practice that Gary Bettman banned in 2008, not that anyone cares).
Wildwing, the first mascot in NHL history to descend onto the ice from the rafters, was named from a fan “write-in” contest. Wildwing looks awesome, but that’s not the reason he hit number two on our list. It is, of course, because he is a superhero. Wildwing starred in the animated Mighty Ducks series, which, when paired with his appearance, is really tough to beat.
And finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for the NHL’s best mascot is…
#1: Bailey – Los Angeles Kings
Bailey is the epitome of mascots. For starters, his lion theme works well with the Kings (lions are, after all, king of the jungle, and are used to represent royalty in many cultures). He wears number 72, which represents the average temperature in Los Angeles, and has appeared in a series of Carls Jr. commercials.
However, what makes Bailey truly special is the inspiration for his name. The mascot is named after Garnet “Ace” Bailey, who served as the Director of Pro Scouting for seven years before being killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
To put the tip in the cap, Bailey has the greatest social media account in professional sports, where he trolls other teams and famous people, and emphatically cheers on the Kings.
Keep roarin’, Bailey.
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!