Sports figures are like real life superheroes. They can do things the rest of the population only dreams about, and are recognized as heroes when they perform their occupational requirements. So in that regard, I attempt to answer a very illogical question. What fictional superhero represents each NHL team?
This list is completely subjective, highly unpredictable, and should be interpreted at your own risk. In most cases I went with a feature film representation of the superhero (if there was one that wasn’t a disaster), but there really are no rules here. Teams are in alphabetical order, and each choice was made with thoughtful consideration.
Anaheim Ducks – The Thing
As Jonathan Quick pointed out in the Players Tribune, a game against the Ducks involves playing heavy minutes. The Thing was the rock (get out your pun counters) that held the Fantastic Four together with his colossal strength. In Anaheim we call that the Getzlaf/Perry duo, who have created their own unique style of play that blends physicality with offensive precision. When you play against the Ducks, it’s clobbering time.
Arizona Coyotes – Jonah Hex
Geographically speaking, this hits the nail on the head. Jonah Hex is DC Comics’ resident western antihero. He’s a cynical bounty hunter with a face only a mother could love. The personality might be missing, but he is a man of true conviction. The Arizona Coyotes might be unknown on a national scale because of the region of the country they play in, but Shane Doan and Mike Smith play the game with tremendous pride. Max Domi is one of several young players with marksman like shooting, and the defensive core led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson can apprehend any forward delinquent. It’s tough to shake Jonah Hex and the Coyotes.
Boston Bruins – Deadpool
The Bruins had this one at “mentally unstable mercenary.” Deadpool is the rare case of a former villain turned antihero, using his violent nature to systematically destroy his foes. The Bruins have lost some muscle over the years, but they still play a physical brand of hockey that teeters the lines of legality and good sportsmanship. They are a nightmare to play against, and will stop at nothing to overcome any obstacle or injury in their way. And the fact that Deadpool’s bodily structure makes it incredibly difficult to get intoxicated bodes very well Brad Marchand.
Buffalo Sabres – Night Crawler
Night Crawler established himself as a prominent member of the X-Men, using the ability to teleport as his calling card. The Sabres are at the very bottom of a serious rebuild, but seemed to have landed a new face of the franchise in rookie Jack Eichel. The Boston University product has similar freakish agility, and also leaves defenders in the dust when he has the puck. The Sabres have a lot of growing up to do, but their on-ice play should both excite and frustrate the hockey community for years to come.
Calgary Flames – Ant Man
I think it’s safe to say this isn’t the most physically imposing team in the league. The Flames roster is based on speed, agility, and the ability to duck under the occasional check. And much like Ant Man, these young guns have a knack for getting in and out of tight spaces. Plus, I mean let’s face it, Johnny Gaudreau made sure his teammates didn’t really have another choice.
Carolina Hurricanes – Thor
Who else could be the superhero with long blonde Nordic hair and occasional family issues? Eric and Jordan Staal, once bitter Eastern Conference enemies, have joined up to try to take Carolina to the promise land. Both Thor and the Hurricanes possess incredible strength, power in scoring situations (i.e. Natalie Portman), and often lie in wait in an unknown and uncharted region of the universe (Asgard, or Raleigh, North Carolina). I miss this team being competitive.
Chicago Blackhawks – Iron Man
The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups in six years, have the two highest paid players in the game, and are well-known as the flamboyant faces of hockey. Oh yeah, they’re about that Iron Man life. The elements of their personality that make them detestable (at times) off the ice make them undoubtedly brilliant on it. There are flashy goals, constant waves of pressure, and the ability to get the most out of every roster move like a Tony Stark invention. The Blackhawks are playing chess while the rest of the league is playing checkers. And the party isn’t over until they say it’s over.
Colorado Avalanche – The Flash
Team speed is the key for Patrick Roy’s club, who boast some of the real Flashes in the NHL. Nathan MacKinnon can flat-out wheel, Gabriel Landeskog picks up pace as the game progresses, and Matt Duchene is perennially underrated each year (which I still can’t comprehend). Heck, even Roy’s insanely entertaining meltdowns happen at a 1000 miles per hour. Sometimes speed can actually be a bad thing if it leads to undisciplined play, and that’s been the case for the Avalanche the past two seasons. Heads up guys.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Mr. Fantastic
This might be a stretch (…crickets), but the Blue Jackets remind me of Mr. Fantastic for one simple reason. The front office duo of John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen have found away to intelligently construct a roster that can play a variety of styles. Some days they are forced to play a fast tempo game, others require more of a drag-em-out physical approach. The Blue Jackets are the NHL’s elasticity squad, using intelligence and diversity to stay competitive with all the top teams. Usually that is.
Columbus is not flawless, and has run into some tough luck the last few years. I have no doubt that this team will continue to be competitive by years end, when they are well out of the playoff picture. Just as movie studios perennially fail at making a Fantastic Four motion picture, the Blue Jackets struggle with turning a well-rounded roster into a permanent playoff fixture. It’s hard to comprehend.
Dallas Stars – Green Arrow
The Green Arrow is an expert marksman that uses his elite athleticism to excel at both archery and martial arts. I wouldn’t take any other offensive duo in the NHL over Seguin and Benn for the next five years. As a team, the Stars are world-class shooters. You might think you have things under control, but then a few shifts later you’re down by three goals. The Green Arrow received tons of recognition for his skills with the bow, but he never got proper credit for being an underrated thinker. Likewise, there is more than meets the eye regarding the Dallas Stars. They creatively make use of all of their physical tools, and put themselves in the best chances to thrive.
Detroit Red Wings – Martian Manhunter
Simply put, the Red Wings are hockey royalty and deserve to be recognized as such. Martian Manhunter was an original member of the Justice League, and willingly fights crime despite being away from his home planet. I wholeheartedly believe that Pavel Datsyuk is an alien. With his smooth mitts still intact at age 37, I think it’s time we start running some scientific tests. The Red Wings may not be at the top of the NHL landscape at the moment, but their blend of proven winners and young upstart talent has them in position to extend their consecutive playoff appearance streak to an absurd 25 straight seasons. They are the hall-mark of consistency, much like the no-nonsense Martian superhero.
Edmonton Oilers – Starlord
In Guardians of the Galaxy, Starlord was a wise cracking, immature superhero who had more quips and dance moves than David Hasselhoff at an open bar wedding. In a similar respect, the Oilers have not grown up in years, because they have literally been getting younger at every position. This team has a lot of buzz like Chris Pratt’s version of Starlord, and a surprising amount of “bad-ass” potential with some of their first overall draft picks (McDavid, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins). Only time will tell if this group matures and saves the universe, or ends up back in the lottery wondering what might have been.
Florida Panthers – Green Lantern
The Green Lantern has the ability to project hard light constructions with the use of his trusty green power ring. The constructions are only possible with his own creativity and willpower, making him one of the more mentally tough superheroes in existence. The Panthers don’t have a green power ring, but they do have Jarmoir Jagr’s mullet.
Seriously. Have you seen that thing? It’s glorious.
I hope all hockey fans are appreciating the twilight of Jagr’s career, assuming it actually does have an expiration date. The man who just tied Marcel Dionne for 4th all-time in goals scored has more perseverance and willpower than anybody I’ve seen play the sport of hockey. I mean how else do you explain his longevity? He’s committed to his profession, and he loves what he does. You can see it in his game, still using that transcendent imagination of his to make an impact at age 43. I tip my figurative cap to you Mr. Jagr, and I hope this tribute is ok with you (We all know that he doesn’t care what gets posted about him, so I think I’m ok.)
Los Angeles Kings – The Incredible Hulk
The Kings are another team that uses size and strength to their advantage. They might beat you over the head with puck possession, and aren’t afraid to mix it up in front of the net. And much like Dr. Bruce Banner, the Kings get stronger when you push back. Would you want to make Milan Lucic, Jonthan Quick, or Anze Kopitar angry? You probably won’t like them if you do.
Minnesota Wild – Captain America
Well, duh. Minnesota is recognized nationally in the USA as “the State of Hockey.” Zack Parise and Ryan Sutter are Minnesota treasures who returned to their roots to fight the good fight against the evil powers that be in the NHL. Both guys work relentlessly hard and refuse to quit on a single shift, values that this country is founded on (USA! USA!). And with Chicago getting the nod as Iron Man, I have re-created the natural disdain that the Wild have for the flamboyant team that keeps eliminating them from the playoffs. Look for a new chapter of their rivalry with the Blackhawks this spring, because it always ends up happening.
Montreal Canadiens – Captain Marvel
One of the more overlooked superheroes in history, Captain Marvel was a DC brainchild that could do no wrong. He was bigger than Superman for a time, and by simply yelling the word “Shazam! (which also served as an alternate name of his)” he could channel the powers of many Greek gods. The Montreal Canadiens, for whatever reason, come into every season overlooked as well. People are quick to point out there flaws, ignorning the well-rounded arsenal that always puts them in a chance to succeed. They can score, defend, and Carey Price can morph into a life-like Captain Marvel in pressure situations.. Montreal has 24 Stanley Cups to their name, and continues to play with a chip on their shoulder as they fight for respect. We have to stop being surprised when they succeed.
Nashville Predators – Cyclops
In every X-Men movie (including the one where Brett Ratner just winged it as a director), Cyclops was always an important member of the team. He didn’t steal the show, but you could always count on him to come through (as long as Wolverine wasn’t putting the moves on his girl). The Predators are not a glamorous bunch, but they have an enormous amount of talent and are a framework for consistency. When Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones go on the attack, it resembles the short and powerful energy that Mr. Scott Summers would emit from his eyes. I’m tired of people sleeping on Cyclops and the Predators.
New Jersey Devils – Hellboy
Since puns are at a premium, consider this one an empty net goal. The Devils, much like the character of Hellboy and Ron Pearlman himself, will never be easy on the eyes. They won three Stanley Cups from 1995-2003, and might have singlehandedly driven casual fans to watch other sports with the manner in which they did it. But they don’t care, and they will continue to be the anti-hero that doesn’t play nice with others. When you need a dirty job to be done on the ice, you call the Hellboys from Newark.
New York Islanders – Spiderman
Hear me out. Before a unique set of circumstances that gave him his special spider-like powers, Peter Parker was, for lack of a better word, a loser (a real munson). Then he became Spiderman, beat up Bonesaw and Sofia Vergara’s future Chippendale husband, and made sure that both the city of New York and Kirsten Dunst were taken care of. Doesn’t that sound like the New York Islanders of Brooklyn? This team was run into the ground by some of the worst management decisions NBCSN’s pregame show can buy, until one man turned everything around. Jonathan Tavares might damn well be Spiderman the way takes games over on both sides of the ice. The Islanders are exciting, unpredictable, and mesmerizing to watch. And if any of you bring up the Andrew Garfield Spiderman movies, I’m just gonna snap.
New York Rangers – Superman
This Rangers team has it all. They’re faster than a speeding bullet, possess superhuman strength, and can identify plays developing as if they have X-Ray vision. And with Henrik Lundqvist in net, this is the model NHL franchise with no identifiable weaknesses.
But something’s missing. There has to be a reason this team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in over two decades, and why this roster plateaus each May. Superman has all the measurables and should be unbeatable, yet he kept finding himself in perplexing situations. Are the Rangers ever going to realize they’re full potential? Is there a Lois Lane behind the scenes that I need to know about? For the sake of New York Rangers fans, let’s hope this is the year they overcome their postseason Kryptonite.
Ottawa Senators – Hawkeye
Hawkeye ‘s ability to snipe foes down from long distances with a Bow and Arrow has made him a catalyst for the Avengers. In the NHL there are good shooters, there are great shooters, and then there is the class Erik Karlsson is in. Karlsson is a goal scoring machine, and has already claimed two Norris Trophy’s as the game’s top defenseman at the youthful age of 25. With Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman up front, Karlsson on the point, and Karlsson’s hair resting perfectly in his bucket, the Senators have established themselves as key component in this beautiful game of hockey.
Philadelphia Flyers – Daredevil
Daredevil is the only superhero that functions without sight, overcompensating with tremendously strong senses in the other human areas. The Philadelphia Flyers have one main weakness too in their goaltending. You’d have to go back to Ron Hextall to think of a time the Flyer faithful felt somewhat confident in net, and that man was a raging lunatic who would attack players in the middle of games (He also runs their front office now). Despite their goaltending follies, the Flyers can still hurt teams with their physical presence and their offensive wizardry. There are only a few players I would want in my hockey foxhole more than Claude Giroux, who always brings it regardless of the score. And speaking of superheroes Ben Affleck just had to be:
Pittsburgh Penguins – Batman
The Penguins, for all of their faults and flaws, are a premiere brand in the NHL. They have prominent since the days of Super Mario, and the tradition was carried on by a generational player in Sidney Crosby. Batman is a master strategist with a brilliant mind, which can also be said about Sid the Kid. And like Bruce Wayne, the Penguins level of skill is not universally appreciated around the NHL. What started out as a fun up and coming team has been re-christened as a bunch of whining prima donnas. To many, the Pens are no longer captivating, just simply annoying. Pittsburgh has truly lived long enough to see themselves become the villain.
I never thought I’d be defending the Penguins in written form, but the NHL needs them as much as any team. Their level of skill, their attitude, their ineptitude at times, all of it is important. The Pittsburgh Penguins are the heroes that the game of hockey deserves, but not the ones it needs. And who wouldn’t want to see the comedic timings of Phil Kessel trying to put on the bat suit?
San Jose Sharks – Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider was a motorcycle stuntman who tangles with a few demons and has the ability to transform into a skeletal superhuman of sorts. The San Jose Sharks have had their ups and down, and despite failing to win a title this past decade, they’ve never completey bottomed out. They just keep coming back for more, with an imposing will that is almost impossible to break. Thornton and Marleau keep chugging along, and the new generation of Sharks (Couture, Hertl, and Pavelski) continues the chase for glory. They might not win a title anytime soon, but the Sharks are certainly indestructible.
St. Louis Blues – Punisher
The St. Louis Blues are on-ice vigilantes under the coaching tutelage of Ken Hitchcock, with a playing style based on outworking the opposition in every aspect of the game. The Punisher fights crime by any means necessary, using the brutal deaths of his family as motivation to unleash fury on the underground mob. The Blues motivation is simple; the lack of a Stanley Cup title on their resume. It’s almost beyond belief that this proud franchise in such a strong hockey community has not won a single championship since it’s inception. The Blues have been close, but they are playing with a heightened sense of urgency this year. Mental toughness, another great Punisher trait, is going to have to come in handy in this upcoming postseason. Otherwise, the drought will continue.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Human Torch
The ability to heat up in an instant makes the Human Torch a dangerous superhero. Tampa Bay’s Human Torch is called Steven Stamkos, and he’s already morphed into one of the game’s incredible snipers. There is a lot that goes into a good hockey shot, but with Stamkos I’ve always been impressed by how fundamentally sound he is. What looks like a freakishly accurate rocket is just a normal day at the office for #91. The Lightning, in what is certainly an insanely accurate marketing campaign to align with their mascot, have built a reputation on scoring fast (remember Tyler Johnson in the playoffs last season?). I wouldn’t mind seeing a Human Torch third sweater in the Amalie Arena next year.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Black Panther
The Toronto Maple Leafs have fallen on hard times in recent years, and decided it was time for a change. Black Panther is not just a skilled hunter with enhanced speed and strength, he is a P.H.D. level scientist. If there’s anybody that knows hockey, knows locker rooms dynamics, and knows Canadian culture, it’s the man the Maple Leafs brought in to fix their problems in Mike Babcock. He’s coached Canada to the last two gold medals, and helped revitalize hockey in both Anaheim and Detroit during his NHL tenure. He may not have gone to Oxford like the Black Panther, but I would definitely consider him to have a top eight hockey mind in the world.
Vancouver Canucks – Aquaman
Aquaman’s greatest non-water related strength was telepathy, which is what I’m convinced the Sedin twins have. Their ability to know what the other is thinking and where they will be on the ice is remarkable, and has propelled the Canucks to a significant number of accolades. It’s just unfortunate that none of those accolades have resulted in a championship, and most of them have resulted in a first round playoff exit. Aquaman is a credible superhero, but became a running joke of sorts in regards to his Justice League brethren in the D.C. universe. The same holds true for Vancouver, where the “lack of toughness” narrative is so strong that like Kevin Federline they are desperate to be known for something, anything else. Keep shooting for the stars guys.
Washington Capitals – Wolverine
When Alex Ovechkin touches the puck, he becomes an unstoppable mutant with limitless strength. Nothing can faze him as he bounces off checks and re-generates his powerful shot again and again. The Capitals haven’t really changed much in the past decade, much like how Wolverine keeps on trucking year after year. This team has fit the mold of their captain, and defiantly believes that one day they will reach the mountain top staying true to their identity. Maybe. But Ovechkin is not getting any younger. I hope to monitor this team’s chase for a title, but realistically we could be moments away from an alternate universe popping up and changing everything.
If that happens, tell the world my story. Or not. It’s not like I would know the difference anyway.
Winnipeg Jets – Blade
And this is how we put a ribbon on the superhero list. Winnipeg is not the nicest team in the NHL, and I don’t see Dustin Byfuglien or Mark Scheifele delivering Christmas cookies to their central division rivals. The Jets are a carbon copy of Blade, confronting everything with a hands on approach (including their taxes). Their roster is comprised with toughness, skillful playmakers, and players that can withstand punishment from their opponents. Plus, the people of Winnipeg might actually be vampires. Especially this guy:
Hockey superheroes come in all shapes and sizes. Thanks for reading.