To mark 200 episodes of the DTFR Podcast, Nick and Colby talk about the origin story of DTFR, give podcast advice and share some of their favorite memories from the show or otherwise from the last six years of Down the Frozen River. Also, Lindy Ruff is the new head coach of the New Jersey Devils, more Florida Panthers talk and extended CBA musings.
For a lot of Boston Bruins fans, the term “goalie controversy” often draws up images of people shouting at each other on Twitter about Tim Thomas vs. Tuukka Rask– yes, even to this day, despite the fact that 1) Thomas was traded to the New York Islanders in 2013 and 2) that he effectively retired after the 2013-14 season split between the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars (he never announced his retirement officially, anyway).
Both have a Stanley Cup ring to their names as they were members of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins roster, with Thomas leading the way to Boston’s first championship since 1972, while Rask was biding his time as the team’s backup before taking over as the full-time B’s starter since the 2012-13 season– racking up multiple franchise records in the process and two more Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2013 and 2019.
But this “goalie controversy” has nothing to do with the galaxy brain Thomas vs. Rask arguments on Twitter.
This is about the “controversial” debate that rages surrounding retiring No. 30 in Boston and the controversies that surround two of its most prominent Bruins to wear it.
When considering whether or not to retire a number in Bruins lore, first consider what other Original Six teams have done, since they’re the only comparable franchises with almost as many– if not more– years of history than Boston.
Then consider the fact that Boston has never retired a number for a goalie. For quick reference, retired numbers of goalies are in bold.
Boston Bruins retired numbers
- 2 Eddie Shore
- 3 Lionel Hitchman
- 4 Bobby Orr
- 5 “Dit” Clapper
- 7 Phil Esposito
- 8 Cam Neely
- 9 Johnny Bucyk
- 15 Milt Schmidt
- 16 Rick Middleton
- 24 Terry O’Reilly
- 77 Ray Bourque
Chicago Blackhawks retired numbers
- 1 Glenn Hall
- 3 Keith Magnuson/Pierre Pilote
- 9 Bobby Hull
- 18 Denis Savard
- 21 Stan Mikita
- 35 Tony Esposito
Detroit Red Wings retired numbers
- 1 Terry Sawchuk
- 4 Red Kelly
- 5 Nicklas Lidstrom
- 7 Ted Lindsay
- 9 Gordie Howe
- 10 Alex Delvecchio
- 12 Sid Abel
- 19 Steve Yzerman
Montreal Canadiens retired numbers
- 1 Jacques Plante
- 2 Doug Harvey
- 3 Emile Bouchard
- 4 Jean Beliveau
- 5 Bernie Geoffrion/Guy Lapointe
- 7 Howie Morenz
- 9 Maurice Richard
- 10 Guy Lafleur
- 12 Yvan Cournoyer/Dickie Moore
- 16 Henri Richard/Elmer Lach
- 18 Serge Savard
- 19 Larry Robinson
- 23 Bob Gainey
- 29 Ken Dryden
- 33 Patrick Roy
New York Rangers retired numbers
- 1 Eddie Giacomin
- 2 Brian Leetch
- 3 Harry Howell
- 7 Rod Gilbert
- 9 Andy Bathgate/Adam Graves
- 11 Vic Hadfield/Mark Messier
- 19 Jean Ratelle
- 35 Mike Ritcher
Toronto Maple Leafs retired numbers
- 1 Turk Broda/Johnny Bower
- 4 Hap Day/Red Kelly
- 5 Bill Barilko
- 6 Irvine “Ace” Bailey
- 7 King Clancy/Tim Horton
- 9 Ted Kennedy/Charlie Conacher
- 10 Syl Apps/George Armstrong
- 13 Mats Sundin
- 14 Dave Keon
- 17 Wendell Clark
- 21 Borje Salming
- 27 Frank Mahovlich/Darryl Sittler
- 93 Doug Gilmour
There’s not many retired goalie numbers among Original Six teams, let alone the rest of the NHL. Plus Boston hasn’t even retired No. 1 for Cecil “Tiny” Thompson and/or Frank Brimsek.
Next, think about Hockey Hall of Fame status, as well as career longevity (in Boston and outside of Boston).
Especially since there is no “Boston Bruins Hall of Fame” (which is a shame, really– they built The Hub on Causeway and they couldn’t dedicate more to team history/histories (if you include the NBA’s Boston Celtics) than just the entrance to the old Boston Garden standing inside of Banners Kitchen & Tap?).
Sure there’s The Sports Museum inside TD Garden, but the Montreal Canadiens have a Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame underneath Bell Centre. Your move, Mr. Jacobs.
Cam Neely– He didn’t play nearly enough games for his era due to Ulf Samuelsson, but Neely is a Hockey Hall of Fame member.
Rick Middleton– He played a lot, scored a ton, but Middleton isn’t a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Terry O’Reilly– He was like Milt Schmidt in that he did a lot for the Bruins organization (player and later coach), but O’Reilly isn’t a Hockey Hall of Fame member.
As with everything, there are exceptions to the rule and O’Reilly and Middleton are deservingly so in their own right.
Gerry Cheevers is a Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender. Tim Thomas is a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender. He’s still eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he hasn’t gotten in and there’s no guarantees that he’ll make it.
Interestingly enough, however, while Thomas might never be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Cheevers made it in 1985, but never won a Vezina (Thomas has two, 2008-09 and 2010-11) and was never named to an All-Star Team at season’s end (Thomas was named to two, 2008-09 and 2010-11).
Then think about how they left Boston.
In 1972, the World Hockey Association (WHA) came into fruition as a direct rival of the National Hockey League (NHL). The WHA promised better pay for players and the same– if not better– experience for fans.
It was created by a pair of American promoters who also made the American Basketball Association (ABA), which, if you’re a fan of basketball, you already know the ABA merger story with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to form the National Basketball Association (NBA, 1976-present).
From the onset, the ABA was poised to one day merge with the NBA in its efforts for success a la the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) merger prior to the 1970 NFL season.
The WHA was all about what the NHL wasn’t about.
They wanted to capitalize on markets where hockey could flourish, but were otherwise overlooked by the NHL, as well as attract the best players in the game by paying more than what NHL teams would– especially attracting European talent whereas the NHL was stuck as a “North American” game at the time.
Free agency was a new concept for professional sports in the 1970s and it reigned supreme in the emerging shift towards player’s rights and the evolution of players’ associations.
The NHL’s reserve clause at the time meant players couldn’t become the equivalent of today’s unrestricted free agent until they were 31-years-old. These days, there’s restricted free agency, unrestricted free agency, as well as one-way and two-way contracts to worry about, but that’s another topic for another day.
Cheevers left the Bruins for the WHA, which was deplorable in the eyes of the NHL back then as much as it is now.
Though fans might have loved seeing the Cleveland Crusaders jerseys, NHL owners hated them.
Though players loved making more money at a time when all the other major professional sports were seeing significant raises, NHL owners hated them.
Though WHA franchises thought they’d be on the fast track to continuing operations in the NHL after the WHA ceased to exist, the NHL went all out to slash and burn the remnants of the WHA.
Seriously though, when the WHA initiated discussions for a merger in 1977, NHL owners voted down a plan to merge six WHA teams into the NHL.
The Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, Cincinnati Stingers, Houston Aeros and Winnipeg Jets wanted out of a league that was hemorrhaging money and into the safe arms of the NHL and its tradition.
By 1976, there were 32 major professional hockey teams between the NHL and WHA, which diluted the talent pool of a sport that was nowhere near the numbers of popularity and youth through junior league development as it is today.
When it came time to re-negotiate a merger in 1978, Houston was no longer in the plan, since the Aeros ended up having to fold.
The Indianapolis Racers folded in the middle of December 1978, which set the final nail in the merger. Cincinnati and the Birmingham Bulls would each be compensated to disband elsewhere, while Edmonton, New England, Quebec and Winnipeg would join the NHL at the WHA’s insistence.
Except it wasn’t that easy for the Oilers, Whalers, Nordiques and Jets.
Each team would be stripped of its history– rendering them as NHL expansion teams for the start of the 1979-80 season, subject to expansion fees, an expansion draft and penalizing them by allowing NHL teams to reclaim players that jumped ship to the WHA.
Additionally, the Bruins petitioned the “New England Whalers” moniker, resulting in the Whalers having to drop “New England” in favor of “Hartford” since Boston didn’t want any confusion that the Whalers were playing on their turf (despite Massachusetts and Connecticut both being part of New England).
The Bruins owned New England.
That only strengthened the underdog status of the Whalers and the hatred between the two clubs in their Adams Division rivalry after realignment for the 1981-82 season (Hartford kicked things off in their NHL tenure in the Norris Division from 1979-81).
Anyway, back to Cheevers and his departure from the Hub.
After winning his second Cup with Boston in 1972, Cheevers jumped at the opportunity Cleveland created to make a lot more money than what the Bruins were offering their two-time Stanley Cup winning goaltender.
Cheevers lasted parts of three seasons as a Crusader from 1972-73 to 1975-76, when a financial dispute with Cleveland’s management resulted in Cheevers jumping back into the NHL fold with Boston in the middle of the 1975-76 season.
Since becoming a starting goaltender in the 1967-68 season through Boston’s 1971-72 Cup winning season, Cheevers amassed a 126-52-40 record in 221 games with a 2.72 goals against average and a .915 save percentage in that span, as well as 15 shutouts.
Prior to his departure from the Bruins for Cleveland, he had a career best 2.50 GAA and .920 SV% in 41 games in the 1971-72 season alone as a 31-year-old goaltender (he wouldn’t turn 32 until Dec. 7, 1972).
Though Cheevers returned in 1975-76, things never were really the same.
His WHA tenure racked up a 99-78-9 record in 191 career games for the Crusaders from 1972 through part of the 1975-76 season– with a 3.12 GAA and 14 shutouts in that span.
On Jan. 27, 1976, he returned to Boston as a free agent after being released by Cleveland– two days after the Crusaders suspended him for not showing up and refusing to play.
By that point, Cheevers was 35-years-old and finished off the 1975-76 NHL season with an 8-2-5 record, as well as a 2.74 GAA and a .900 SV% in 15 games played for the Bruins.
In his full seasons for Boston that followed from 1976-77 to his retirement after the 1979-80 season, Cheevers went 87-35-24 in 151 games, with a 2.96 GAA, an .878 SV% and nine shutouts in that span.
Though the emergence of Wayne Gretzky to the NHL scene may have shifted the offensive output across the league since 1979, Cheevers’ NHL playing days only coincided with Gretzky in Gretzky’s rookie season (1979-80).
Though Cheevers had a .524 winning percentage in his first NHL stint with Toronto (two games) and Boston (250 games) from 1961-72 and a .572 winning percentage after his WHA days in 166 games with Boston from 1976-80, his goals against average and save percentage suffered dramatically from a 2.85 GAA and a .911 SV% in 1961-72 to a 2.94 GAA and an .880 SV% from 1976-80.
Of course, age and the inevitable “wall” that players hit at the twilight of their prime is likely a factor here.
Still, the fact remains the same.
Despite leading the Bruins as a head coach after his retirement as a player from 1980-85, his defection from the NHL to the WHA crushed his immediate chances at being honored for his work on the ice in a sweater with the spoked-B on the front and the No. 30 on the back.
And all these years later, he might still be paying for it.
Thomas, on the other hand, chose to sit out the 2012-13 season, citing a need for more connection to his faith, family and friends.
Though it’s certainly understandable these days, given the presumptive hell he must have gone through with all of his concussions and finding the love for the game again– albeit watching as a fan these days– since his retirement from the NHL after the 2013-14 season, Thomas’ 2012-13 plans weren’t the first time he angered the Bruins fanbase, let alone, Boston’s front office.
After winning the Cup in 2011, he skipped out on the team’s White House invitation— citing (to paraphrase) that both major political parties are at fault for the federal government’s overbearance on its citizens.
Other than that, there’s his staunch– if not, outlandish at times– political views that cannot be overlooked (his support for Chick-fil-A amidst the company’s anti-equal marriage stance) in a day and age where Hockey Is (supposed to be) For Everyone.
Like the rest of us, however, Thomas is human– complex, contradicting, well-defined and unique as an individual. We all struggle through our own cognitive dissonance through life.
For some, his on-ice performance can be separated from what his private off-ice personal life ensues.
For others, he might not be as high on the pedestal of Boston sports lore due to his complicated nature– one that contradicts research and the science behind traumatic brain injuries, therapy and experimental treatments with conspiracy theories related to climate change, among other things.
All of this begs the question “should there be a character component to retiring numbers,” which could lead to further discussion surrounding whether or not teams should permanently unretire numbers when legendary players don’t live up to being role models off the ice (see, Bobby Hull and the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes).
Likewise, the same argument could be applied to hall of fame inductions, but both are discussions for another time.
But Thomas’ decision to sit out the 2012-13 season with one-year remaining on his contract and a $5.000 million cap hit in a time when Boston was built for contending for another Cup run while spending $8.500 million combined between Thomas and Tuukka Rask in the crease as the team sat uncomfortably below the salary cap at about $68.868 million out of the $70.200 million ceiling, struck a nerve with then General Manager, Peter Chiarelli, and Co.
Oh and to further add to the uncertainty, the league hit a lockout prior to the start of the 2012-13 season, which saw the usual 82-game schedule reduced to 48 games that season once play resumed in January.
On Feb. 7, 2013, the Bruins traded Thomas to the New York Islanders to free up much needed cap space in an attempt to re-sign Rask, Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference, Anton Khudobin, Jaromir Jagr and others in the 2013 offseason after losing in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
Only Rask remained as Ference’s free agent status priced himself out of Boston, Jagr was deemed “too old” (joke’s on them!) and Horton left for the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shroud of “word on the street” rumors. Khudobin, meanwhile, went to the Carolina Hurricanes on a one-year, $800,000 deal after Boston signed Chad Johnson for $200,000 less to be Rask’s backup for the 2013-14 season.
Thomas returned to the NHL for the 2013-14 season with the Florida Panthers after signing a one-year deal on Sept. 26, 2013, before later being traded to the Dallas Stars on March 5, 2014– one day after Florida re-acquired Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks.
His comeback season didn’t go well (posting a 16-20-3 record, a 2.87 goals against average and a .909 save percentage in 40 games with the Panthers, as well as a 2-4-1 record, a 2.97 GAA and a .902 SV% in eight games with the Stars) and Thomas rode off into the sunset after Dallas was eliminated in six games in the 2014 First Round by the Anaheim Ducks.
The Bruins may let bygones be bygones and welcome Thomas with open arms for a “Tim Thomas Night” or special ceremony one day in the future, but it likely won’t be before Rask retires.
As it is, Thomas isn’t planning on traveling much outside of his Washington, D.C. appearance for his induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Dec. 2019.
So, what goaltender could have their number retired by Boston?
If there’s one Bruins goaltender that will have his number retired sooner rather than later, it’s Rask.
There’s three probable options for Rask when all is said and done in 2021;
1) to sign a short term deal and remain with Boston for his entire NHL career,
2) to sign a contract elsewhere or
3) to retire– finishing his career as one of the greatest goaltenders in Bruins history as he currently ranks 1st in wins (291– Tiny Thompson is 2nd with 252), 1st in games played (536– Thompson is 2nd with 468), 1st in saves (13,711– Eddie Johnston is 2nd with 12,375), 1st in save percentage among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played as a Bruin (.922– Thomas is 2nd with a .921), 1st in goals against average among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played for Boston (2.26– Byron Dafoe is 2nd with a 2.30), 2nd in shutouts among goalies with a minimum 100 games played for Boston (50– Thompson leads with 74) and– as a bonus– Rask leads with the most points by a goaltender with the Bruins (15, all assists– Cheevers is 2nd with 11, also all assists).
That’s no slouch and not just a result of suiting up in a bunch of games for one team without any real success whatsoever.
That same 2011 Stanley Cup championship year for the Bruins?
Rask was part of that.
Doesn’t matter if you’re the starter or the backup when your name goes on the Cup for a job well done as one of the best goaltending tandems that season. Besides, in today’s NHL, there’s an ever increasing importance for a 1A/1B solution in the crease.
Rask also backstopped the team to two more Stanley Cup Final appearances since then in 2013 and 2019.
He also won the Vezina Trophy in 2014 and was likely on track to pick up his second Vezina this season– number of games played compared to his peers, like Andrei Vasilevskiy, be damned– at its pause due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with a 2.12 GAA and a .929 SV%, as well as a 26-8-6 record in 41 games played.
No. 40 in black and gold led the NHL in goals against average this season and was second in save percentage, while sharing second place in shutouts with five.
Whether he wins this season’s Vezina Trophy or not, he’ll still have a consolation prize shared with his backup, Jaroslav Halak, as the duo won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the 2019-20 season as the goaltender(s) that have played a minimum of 25 games in a season for the team(s) with the fewest goals scored against it.
Rask and Halak allowed 174 goals this season in 70 games played, whereas Ben Bishop and Khudobin allowed 177 goals against for the Stars in 69 games.
This season’s hardware is Rask’s first Jennings Trophy win and Halak’s second career Jennings honors after previously sharing the title with Brian Elliott in the 2011-12 season with the Blues.
As for Rask’s jersey retirement case, it helps that he is tied for the best save percentage in league history (.922) with Dominik Hasek and 11th overall in the NHL’s all-time goals against averages with a 2.26 in his career.
Oh and the B’s have won the Presidents’ Trophy twice with Rask in the crease (2013-14 and 2019-20), something Thomas never did in his tenure with Boston and Cheevers could never do, since the award wasn’t presented for the first time until the 1985-86 season.
It’s possible the Bruins retire No. 40 before they make up for lost time and retire No. 30 for two players, like how the Toronto Maple Leafs retired No. 1 twice (Turk Broda and Johnny Bower).
After all, if you’re worried about running out of numbers that are typically used by a goaltender, Nos. 1, 29, 31, 35, 45 and any other number that isn’t already or won’t be retired by the time Boston gets around to retiring a goaltender’s jersey number (assuming the B’s retire No. 33 for Zdeno Chara, No. 37 for Patrice Bergeron, No. 46 for David Krejci and perhaps No. 63 and No. 88 by that time) will still be available.
Andrew Ference was my introduction to many things beyond the hockey world that affect the hockey world, Ken Dryden wrote some of the literature I’ve read and Brock McGillis is one of the many people I follow on Twitter.
That’s just a few of them, but there are many others like Marisa Ingemi, Ryan Clark, Eric Stephens, Amalie Benjamin, Jashvina Shah and Hemal Jhaveri, just to name some more.
I’m sure people will be bringing up the conversation surrounding specialty jerseys and tape in NHL games as they already have and will again someday.
I, for one, have no problems seeing whatever specialty jerseys in warmups and would encourage that players at least use whatever tape they feel like to coincide with that night or support that cause throughout the season a la Kurtis Gabriel’s use of Pride Tape in his career.
(Yes, I know, let’s abandon the traditional “don’t use ‘I’ statements” in op-ed pieces for a moment.)
Want to use Pride Tape? Use it in game. Not just warmups.
Want to use camouflage tape on Military Appreciation Night? Use it in game. Not just warmups.
Want to use purple tape on Hockey Fights Cancer Night? Use it in game. Not just warmups.
Don’t just put away tape after warmups if tape— of all things— is so often changed from game-to-game, stick-to-stick, broken stick-to-broken stick or whatever.
That said, the league needs to do a better job at distinguishing special nights.
Hockey Is For Everyone Night is nice in theory, but you cannot lump every cause into one, especially if it’s only the causes you’ve yet to show proof you care about beyond the brand image.
Hockey Is For Everyone Night should be a February thing, coinciding with Willie O’Ree puck drop ceremonies and Black History Month.
That is the night when you address why it took 60 years to put O’Ree in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018, after he broke the NHL’s color barrier in 1958.
Pride Night shouldn’t be slapped under the same banner (or worse, see the St. Louis Blues watch party). The Carolina Hurricanes had Pride Night done right this season and went an extra step on their social media to value the autonomy of every LGBTQ+ human being. Take a page from them.
(I’m not opposed to being bribed for the play-in/playoffs with any leftover Pride scarves you guys might have, Canes, fully knowing that this isn’t the place or time to be asking for free things.)
How can you accomplish these event nights and promote diversity within and without your organization? Hire minority candidates in executive positions and create things like Pride Committees and Black Hockey History Committees.
As we have seen from Akim Aliu, J.T. Brown, Evander Kane, Wayne Simmonds, Kurtis Gabriel, Andrew Ference, Brock McGillis, Ben Scrivens, Braden Holtby, Patrice Bergeron, Blake Wheeler, Logan Couture, Ryan Miller and other allies (I know I did not name them all here, but if you’re one of them I missed out on, please do not feel forgotten— continue to use your voice), I can only hope more players, coaches, front office members and retired players will continue to speak up, speak out and listen.
Racism exists. Fight it. Prevent it. Put an end to it.
Black Lives Matter. Police brutality exists.
Yes, there are good cops, but the current overarching “justice” system negates their spotlight where credit is due. That can be fixed and the good cops that truly serve and protect their communities— their entire community, white, black, Latinx, straight, LGBTQ and all— will rightfully see their time when the system is overhauled.
As long as there is no true Justice, it is an Unjust system.
Please register to vote if you aren’t already registered (U.S., Canada) and, most important, complete your entire ballot. Vote for your executive branch and legislative branch, but do not neglect your attorneys general, sheriff and others.
Nobody should have to die and yet, here we are, addressing murder after murder under the law of “innocent until proven guilty”.
We spend the majority of our days listening rather than speaking, but in actuality, we’re only hearing unless we’re actively listening— and hearing and listening are two different things.
Hearing is knowing that your mother is yelling from downstairs for you to get out of bed because the bus is coming and you’ll be late to school if you miss it, but you roll over and continue to sleep anyway.
Listening is hearing that your mother is yelling from downstairs for you to get out of bed because the bus is coming, getting up, getting dressed for school and making the bus on time to go to school and learn.
Kim Davis is doing wonderful work as the NHL’s Executive Vice President, Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs.
Practice doesn’t make perfect and the reality of things is that it often takes many attempts before landing something that sticks.
But practice does make better and with enough practice, things can and will be better— it’s the commitment to that practice and the followup that must follow through that matters.
The National Hockey League and its member clubs can do better.
USA Hockey can do better. Assistant Director, Hockey Operations, John Vanbiesbrouck needs to go.
Hockey Canada can do better.
The American Hockey League and its member clubs can do better.
The ECHL and its member clubs can do better.
The International Ice Hockey Federation can do better.
Beer leagues can do better. EA Sports can do better.
If you’ve ever grabbed a hockey stick, watched the sport or played the video game— you can do better.
That means all of us must learn and grow as we so often do in every other aspect of our lives.
If you’re a player, you once had to learn to skate. That took time, effort and many stumbles, but you got better over the years.
There’s no excuse for not being better as a person.
You’ve already done it in so many other ways, what’s one more important thing that doesn’t just occur on the ice?
The San Jose Sharks dealt Patrick Marleau to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional 2021 3rd round pick at Monday’s trade deadline.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson was in a selling mood for the first time in a while as Penguins GM Jim Rutherford was buying low left and right in hopes of getting back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2017.
The two teams met in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, in which Marleau’s Sharks lost to the Penguins in six games, but it seems all is good between the competitors– or at least, Marleau’s going to one of his favorite teams as a kid and now has a chance of seeing at least one more postseason before he ultimately hangs up the skates.
San Jose will receive a 2021 2nd round pick instead of the Pens’ 2021 3rd round pick if Pittsburgh wins the Cup.
Marleau, 40, is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end and had 10-10–20 totals in 58 games with San Jose this season.
The Aneroid, Saskatchewan native is 52 games shy of tying Gordie Howe’s record for the most games played all time and is in his 22nd NHL season (20 with San Jose and two with the Toronto Maple Leafs).
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound winger was previously traded in the offseason by the Maple Leafs to the Carolina Hurricanes along with a conditional 2020 1st round pick and a 2020 7th round pick in exchange for a 2020 6th round pick before he was bought out by Carolina and signed with the Sharks as a free agent on Oct. 9, 2019.
Marleau served as captain of the Sharks for five seasons (2003-09) and was an alternate captain in his time with San Jose (2002-03, 2009-16) and Toronto (2017-19).
He has 561 goals and 625 assists (1,186 points) in 1,715 career NHL games for the Sharks and Maple Leafs and was originally drafted by San Jose in the first round (2nd overall) of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, which was in (you guessed it) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
With the acquisition of the conditional 2021 3rd round pick and a 2020 1st round pick in a separate trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Sharks have 15 selections in the next two NHL Entry Drafts– including two in the 2020 2nd round and three in the 2021 3rd round.
While Marleau is best suited for a chance at his elusive first Stanley Cup championship in Pittsburgh, the same cannot be said for long-time Shark, Joe Thornton, who elected to stay in San Jose instead of waiving his no-movement clause for a trade to a Cup contender.
Carolina Hurricanes General Manager, Don Waddell, made a splash on Monday morning, sending Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Eetu Luostarinen and Chase Priskie to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Vincent Trocheck.
Panthers GM, Dale Tallon, realizes his team is two points outside of an Atlantic Division playoff berth, right?
As a result of trading Haula, the Hurricanes met the requirement on a condition in a previous trade with the Vegas Golden Knights and will now send their 2021 5th round pick to the Golden Knights to complete the Haula for Nicolas Roy swap the teams made on June 27, 2019.
Trocheck, 26, is signed through the 2021-22 season at a $4.750 million cap hit and had 10-26–36 totals in 55 games this season with Florida.
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he was drafted by the Panthers in the third round of the 2011 NHL Draft (64th overall) and has 111 goals and 171 assists (282 points) in 420 career NHL games (all with Florida).
Haula, 28, had 12 goals and ten assists (22 points) in 41 games with the Hurricanes this season and is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
The Pori, Finland native was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the first round (7th overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft, entered the league in the 2013-14 season and has 85–88–173 totals in 398 career games with the Hurricanes, Golden Knights and Wild.
Wallmark, 24, is a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end and had 11-12–23 totals in 60 games with Carolina prior to the trade.
A native of Umea, Sweden, Wallmark was originally drafted by the Hurricanes in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Draft (97th overall) and made his league debut in the 2016-17.
He has 22 goals and 32 assists (54 points) in 160 games in his career (all with Carolina).
Luostarinen, 21, is from Siilinjarvi, Finland and had one assist in eight games with the Canes this season and was drafted by Carolina in the second round (42nd overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft.
Priskie, 23, had six goals and 25 assists (31 points) in 52 games with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) prior to the trade. He was originally drafted by the Washington Capitals in the sixth round (177th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft and signed with the Hurricanes as a free agent on August 17, 2019.
He attended Quinnipiac University and played four years of college hockey and is a native of Pembroke Pines, Florida.
The DTFR Podcast is back from hiatus as Nick provides a State of the Podcast, reviews a few things from the last couple of months and delves into all of the transactions leading up to the 2020 NHL trade deadline.
The Vancouver Canucks routed the Boston Bruins, 9-3, at Rogers Arena on Saturday night in what was Boston’s third game in four nights of traveling.
That said, Canucks goaltender, Jacob Markstrom (23-16-4 record, 2.75 goals against average, .918 save percentage in 43 games played) made 34 saves on 37 shots against for a .918 SV% in 58:12 time on ice en route to the win.
Meanwhile, his teammate and Canucks backup goaltender, Thatcher Demko (10-6-2, 3.03 GAA, .905 SV% in 20 games played) made a brief relief appearance for a 1:48 span after Markstrom took an inadvertent stick through the cage of his mask early in the first period.
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (23-6-6, 2.17 GAA, .928 SV% in 36 games played) stopped 21 out of 27 shots faced for a .778 SV% in the loss.
Rask was replaced by Jaroslav Halak (16-6-6, 2.42 GAA, .918 SVT in 29 games played) after amassing 46:28 TOI and allowing six goals.
Halak came into the game during a stoppage in play after a Bruins power play goal in the second period and turned aside five out of the eight shots he faced for a .625 SV% en route to no decision in Boston’s loss.
All four goaltenders that dressed for the game took part in the action on Saturday– on a night in the National Hockey League where, 42-year-old, emergency backup goaltender, Dave Ayres, stole the show for the Carolina Hurricanes in their, 6-3, victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on the road.
Also, the Arizona Coyotes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 7-3, on Saturday night.
Apparently goaltending was optional league wide for one night only!
Boston fell to 39-12-12 (90 points) on the season, but remained in command of the entire league standings, while Vancouver improved to 33-22-6 (72 points) and rose to 2nd place in the Pacific Division.
The B’s also fell to 18-10-3 on the road this season, while the Canucks improved to 20-7-4 at home this season.
February 9, 2016 was the last time Boston allowed nine goals (a, 9-2, loss on home ice to the Los Angeles Kings).
Once more, the Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body/conditioning loan) on Saturday night.
B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Friday night’s, 4-3, win in Calgary to Saturday night’s action in Vancouver.
Joakim Nordstrom, Par Lindholm and John Moore were healthy scratches for Boston, while Ondrej Kase was a de facto healthy scratch as he won’t meet up with the team until Monday for practice at Warrior Ice Arena after having been acquired by the Bruins on Friday.
Kase hasn’t played since Feb. 7th due to an illness and was skating with the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday prior to being traded the following day.
A little past the four-minute mark in the action, the Canucks struck first with a blast from Troy Stecher (4) from the faceoff dot, off of Rask, then off the post and over the goal line– giving Vancouver the game’s first lead, 1-0.
Tyler Motte (4) and Jay Beagle (5) recorded the assists on Stecher’s goal at 4:14 of the first period.
Less than a few minutes later, Boston responded on the scoreboard with a goal of their own– tying the game, 1-1, when David Pastrnak (44) deked and wrapped the rubber biscuit around Markstrom with a forehand goal after breaking into the zone on a breakaway thanks to a stretch pass from Matt Grzelcyk through the neutral zone.
Grzelcyk (15) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s first goal of the night at 7:06 of the first period. The goal tied Pastrnak for the most goals by a Bruin in a season since Glen Murray scored 44 goals in the 2002-03 season.
Moments later, Danton Heinen caught Markstrom with an errant stick while engaged in a net front battle and accidentally clipped the Canucks goaltender inside the cage with the blade of his stick.
There was no penalty on the play and Markstrom was forced to briefly leave the game before returning almost two minutes later.
In the meantime, Jeremy Lauzon received a holding infraction against Elias Pettersson at the other end of the ice at 10:21 of the first period, which provided Markstrom with the chance to replace Demko at the stoppage in the action.
Less than a minute later, Canucks captain, Bo Horvat (19), rocketed a one-timer from the high slot past Rask while Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo were split chasing J.T. Miller deep into the corner (from where the one-timer opportunity was generated by Miller to Horvat) and protecting the front of the crease.
Miller (36) and Vancouver’s newest forward, Tyler Toffoli (18), tallied the assists on Horvat’s power play goal and the Canucks led, 2-1, at 11:08 of the opening frame.
About four minutes later, Horvat took a trip to the penalty box for a holding minor against Brad Marchand and presented Boston with their first power play opportunity of the night at 15:34.
Boston’s power play was cut short when Patrice Bergeron also cut a rut to the sin bin for holding against Motte at 17:13– resulting in 21 seconds of 4-on-4 action before the Canucks had an abbreviated power play.
Neither team was able to score on the special teams action.
After one period of play in Vancouver on Saturday, the Canucks led the Bruins, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 17-12, in shots on goal.
Vancouver also held the advantage in every other statistical category, including blocked shots (4-1), takeaways (7-4), giveaways (5-0), hits (14-10) and faceoff win percentage (57-43).
The Canucks were 1/2 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the first intermission.
Early in the middle frame, Adam Gaudette (11) wired a shot under the bar and over Rask’s glove from close range to extend Vancouver’s lead to two-goals.
Quinn Hughes (40) notched the only assist on Gaudette’s goal and Vancouver led, 3-1, at 5:32 of the second period.
Late in the period, the Canucks added a pair of goals when Tanner Pearson (18) pocketed a rebound to extend Vancouver’s lead to three-goals at 14:48.
Loui Eriksson (6) and Tyler Myers (13) had the assists on Pearson’s goal, which made it, 4-1, for the Canucks before Eriksson (6) tallied a goal of his own after stuffing in a loose puck off a deflection in the slot to make it, 5-1, for the Canucks.
Horvat (29) and Alexander Edler (21) recorded the primary and secondary assists on Eriksson’s goal at 15:39 of the second period.
Less than a minute later, Chara took exception to Myers’ hit on Karson Kuhlman in front of the benches and attempted to engage the Vancouver defender in an exchange of fisticuffs, but the Canucks blue liner didn’t want any part of it.
As a result, Myers was assessed a minor for roughing, while Chara picked up two roughing minors at 16:37– yielding a power play to the Canucks in the waning moments of the middle frame.
With less than a minute left in the second period, Charlie Coyle and Horvat got into a scrap and traded punches.
Both players received five-minute majors for fighting at 19:30 and were sent to the dressing room 30 seconds ahead of everyone else.
Through 40 minutes of action in Vancouver, the Canucks led on the scoreboard, 5-1, and in shots on goal, 25-24.
The Canucks also maintained the advantage in blocked shots (11-2), takeaways (12-6), giveaways (8-3) and faceoff win% (56-44), while the Bruins led in hits (25-23).
Vancouver was 1/3 on the skater advantage, while Boston was 0/1 on the power play heading into the third period.
Less than a minute into the final frame of regulation, Pettersson (25) snapped a wrist shot over Rask’s blocker side and into the twine.
Miller (37) and Stecher (9) had the assists on Pettersson’s goal and the Canucks led, 6-1, 46 seconds into the third period.
Moments later, Antoine Roussel caught Torey Krug with a high stick at 5:25 of the third period and presented the B’s with their second power play of the night.
This time around, Boston made sure to capitalize on the skater advantage.
Pastrnak (45) blasted one of his patented power play goals behind Markstrom to cut the deficit to four-goals at 6:28.
Krug (34) and Marchand (54) tallied the assists as Pastrnak picked up his 45th goal of the season– becoming the highest goal-scoring Bruin since Murray in 2002-03– and the B’s trailed, 6-2.
Before the ensuing faceoff, Cassidy replaced Rask with Halak in the crease.
Less than two minutes later, Boston began to mount some momentum with another quick goal from Chris Wagner (5)– his first goal in 18 games– after Wagner followed up on his own rebound and slipped in a backhand goal to make it, 6-3, at 8:11 of the third period.
Grzelcyk (16) and Sean Kuraly (16) had the assists on Wagner’s first goal since Jan. 7th.
Boston’s surge in momentum didn’t last long as Toffoli (19) slapped a one-timer past Halak about three minutes later.
Miller (38) had the only assist on Toffoli’s first goal and once again worked the puck from the end boards back to a teammate for the surefire one-timer goal at 11:10 of the third period and the Canucks led, 7-3.
Less than two minutes later, after Halak managed to stop multiple consecutive shots, finally the Canucks slipped a shot through as chaos ensued in front of the net.
Toffoli (20) mustered his second goal of the game and extended Vancouver’s lead back to five-goals.
Hughes (41) had the only assist on Toffoli’s second goal at 13:03 and the Canucks led, 8-3.
Finally, Jake Virtanen (17) snaked his way through the neutral zone and beat Halak clean with a wrist shot goal past Halak’s glove at 18:15 of the third period and extended Vancouver’s lead to six-goals.
Edler (22) and Stecher (10) each amassed their second assists of the night on Virtanen’s goal and the Canucks finished off the Bruins, 9-3.
At the final horn, Vancouver had beaten Boston, despite trailing the Bruins in shots on goal, 37-35.
The Canucks finished the night leading in every other stat, including blocked shots (18-6), giveaways (12-4), hits (31-29) and faceoff win% (55-46).
Vancouver wrapped up Saturday night’s action 1/3 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 1/2 on the power play in the 60-minute effort.
Boston fell to 6-5-3 when trailing after one period and 5-9-4 when trailing after two periods this season, while Vancouver improved to 17-3-2 when leading after one period and 21-1-1 when leading after two periods this season.
Hughes became the 2nd Canucks rookie defender to record 40 or more assists in a season, joining Dale Tallon (14-42–56 totals) in 1970-71. Hughes joined Bryan Berard (40 in 1996-97), Janne Niinimaa (40 in 1996-97) and Nicklas Lidstrom (49 in 1991-92) as just the fourth rookie defender in the last 30 years to amass at least 40 assists in a single season.
Vancouver became the third different team this season to score nine goals, joining the Lightning (9-3, win against the New York Rangers on Nov. 14, 2019 and a, 9-2, win against Vancouver on Jan. 7, 2020) and Colorado Avalanche (9-4, win against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 7, 2019).
Boston finished their four-game road trip (3-1-0).
The B’s return home for a two-game homestand on Tuesday, Feb. 25th and Thursday, Feb. 27th for meetings with the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars, respectively, before wrapping up the month of February with a road game against the New York Islanders on Feb. 29th.
Back by popular demand– though a few months later than last season– it’s once again time to rank the NHL mascots.
In January 2017, DTFR began a new tradition of giving props for great efforts made in the community, laughs shared, smiles brought to everyone’s faces and (most importantly) character displayed by every mascot in the National Hockey League.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
31) New York Rangers 31st in 2018-19, 30th in 2017-18
The Rangers still don’t have a mascot, which in today’s day and age is a crime. Just march Brian Leetch around Madison Square Garden once in a while or something. Maybe even let Henrik Lundqvist become the team’s first mascot once he retires.
30) Al the Octopus (Detroit Red Wings) 30th in 2018-19, 26th in 2017-18
It’s a yearly tradition at this point to mention how awesome any Al the Octopus plush toy is and that it’s a shame the Red Wings never made Al the Octopus into a real thing instead of just a prop that ended up being sold for $7,700 at an auction in 2017 after Joe Louis Arena was closed and Detroit moved into their current home, Little Caesars Arena.
29) Spartacat (Ottawa Senators) 21st in 2018-19, 9th in 2017-18
Just like the Senators, Spartacat has fallen on hard times and really needs someone to love him. Unfortunately for Spartacat, he probably needs a haircut first or at least that rebrand to finally come around and give Ottawa a fresh look all-around (with new jerseys, new logos and new players).
Hi #sens fans… the @nhl break is here! @aduclair10 and I are off to St Louis. CATch us showcasing our stuff for #NHLAllStar and the #MascotShowdown respectively. #TwoAllStars #gosensgo pic.twitter.com/FSnFSggX6W— Spartacat (@REAL_Spartacat) January 21, 2020
28) Thunderbug (Tampa Bay Lightning) 18th in 2018-19, 15th in 2017-18
Being as cute as a bug no longer cuts it when you have Gritty running around causing chaos, plus other mascots really drumming up their personality bits. Perhaps Thunderbug has gotten too casual in recent years and that’s the reason why the Lightning haven’t won the Cup since 2004.
27) Nordy (Minnesota Wild) 28th in 2018-19, 24th in 2017-18
Like Minnesota sports as a whole, Nordy is just comfortable where he’s at. Nobody’s really sure whether he’s a fox, a wolf or some hybrid northern animal native to the wild, but the Wild’s mascot might also be on General Manager, Bill Guerin’s, list of assets to move at this year’s trade deadline if he’s not careful.
26) Wild Wing (Anaheim Ducks) 17th in 2018-19, 3rd in 2017-18
Wild Wing would be the perfect mascot for a roller hockey team, which is fitting for his location in southern California– where you could play roller hockey year-round. What might be a better option for the Ducks, however, would be to have legendary surfer, Rob Machado, make more appearances at Honda Center in an Anaheim sweater.
25) Sparky the Dragon (New York Islanders) 29th in 2018-19, 25th in 2017-18
With a new arena in Belmont Park looming, one would think the Islanders would make the natural switch to a horse-based mascot because, you know, horse racing and stuff. Either that or just give Sparky the Dragon a more fish-based appearance. Just add a few cuddly scales or perhaps give him a fishing rod that can also double as a hockey stick. Props go a long way at improving ratings.
24) Tommy Hawk (Chicago Blackhawks) 20th in 2018-19, 14th in 2017-18
Something about Tommy Hawk just feels off these days. Perhaps his contract will be traded in the offseason too while the Blackhawks adjust from their decade of dominance in the early 2010s to life in the 2020s.
23) Stanley C. Panther/Viktor E. Ratt (Florida Panthers) 25th in 2018-19, 20th in 2017-18
The Panthers have what some might call the “Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly of mascots”. Sure their early works were great, but their recent comedy has shown their age. Florida should put all of their focus in on one or the other– or at least give Olli Jokinen a proper display case inside BB&T Center.
22) Hunter (Edmonton Oilers) 26th in 2018-19, 23rd in 2017-18
Hunter’s redeeming quality this year is the new alternate threads for the Oilers. Edmonton’s new third sweaters help take away the scary qualities of this lovable lynx if you could only see through his otherwise terror inducing mane.
Dropping your 🍌 split = 😭— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 17, 2020
70% Super/Split Saturday = 😁
Tomorrow's #Oilers vs. Coyotes game is not only a huge divisional matchup, it's also our next Super/Split Saturday as the 50/50 winner will take home 70% of the total pot!
🎟 https://t.co/CFi44ORLeM pic.twitter.com/ICd7lEomM1
21) Howler (Arizona Coyotes) 27th in 2018-19, 21st in 2017-18
The Coyotes are embracing their kachina sweaters like never before and we can only hope that Howler will have to wear them full-time in the near future. If not, he’ll continue to be average in ranking. Your move, Arizona.
20) Bernie the St. Bernard (Colorado Avalanche) 22nd in 2018-19, 22nd in 2017-18
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Bernie the St. Bernard, since St. Bernard dogs are usually the go-to rescue animals in the event of an avalanche in the real world, but it’s just a little too on the nose compared to the Yeti that once walked the corridors of Pepsi Center.
It was as close to a Sasquatch as you’d see in an NHL arena– until Seattle joins the fray in 2021, that is (hopefully they take our suggestion for a mascot). So yeah… the Avalanche have an average mascot.
19) Youppi! (Montreal Canadiens) 10th in 2018-19, 6th in 2017-18
Look, there’s nothing bad about Youppi!, but has anyone heard from him lately? I mean, is everything ok? First the Tampa Bay Rays jettison their plans for a potential split-season between St. Petersburg and Montreal, then the Canadiens just seem to have really overlooked how much he means to the mascot world lately.
Fear not, this may be a down year in the rankings, but Youppi! should bounce back once the Expos return from their quick run to get bread and milk.
Félicitations à un autre numéro 33 légendaire du sport à Montréal!— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 22, 2020
Congratulations to another legendary No. 33 from the Montreal sports scene!#LarryWalkerHOF | @Cdnmooselips33 pic.twitter.com/TcCwEo2gBa
18) Bailey (Los Angeles Kings) 3rd in 2018-19, 1st in 2017-18
Cranky mascots on Twitter is getting kind of old. We’re just putting Bailey here so he can tweet at us and change our minds.
17) Harvey the Hound (Calgary Flames) 23rd in 2018-19, 18th in 2017-18
Put a shirt on for heaven’s sake. It’s winter! Canadians, man. They’re an interesting breed.
16) Chance (Vegas Golden Knights) 9th in 2018-19, 31st* in 2017-18
We gave Chance a chance, but now the Golden Knights’ mascot just seems average, if not just old news thanks to something we call “the Gritty Factor” in the industry. A good performance at the 2020 NHL Mascot Showdown could boost his ranking.
Happy Thanksgiving. 🦃 pic.twitter.com/rKYXrdfgeB— Chance (@ChanceNHL) November 28, 2019
15) Mick E. Moose (Winnipeg Jets) 16th in 2018-19, 11th in 2017-18
Mick E. Moose looked stunning in Winnipeg’s 2019 Heritage Classic sweater, but unfortunately for the Jets mascot, there’s not much else going for him these days. Maybe next year.
How's that for a Sunday afternoon!?! pic.twitter.com/DgCGypgFup— Mick E Moose (@MickEMoose_00) December 8, 2019
14) Gnash (Nashville Predators) 19th in 2018-19, 17th in 2017-18
Gnash gets some bonus points for Nashville’s 2020 Winter Classic sweater, but he hasn’t done anything out of this world lately to try to capture a few more spots.
13) Slapshot (Washington Capitals) 5th in 2018-19, 4th in 2017-18
Once a rising star in the mascot ranking world, Slapshot lost a little of his edge while the Capitals roll right along with the Metropolitan Division lead. Another Stanley Cup Final run could be the cure for his ails.
12) Victor E. Green (Dallas Stars) 12th in 2018-19, 19th in 2017-18
We’re over the moon for this huggable alien in his Stars 2020 Winter Classic threads. Victor E. Green’s also still got those cute hockey stick ears going for him, but could use another viral video or two to really move him up the ranks. Anyone know if he’s on TikTok?
Finally joined the world of Instagram! Follow me @DallasStarsVic— Victor E. Green (@VictorEGreen) January 9, 2020
Any other account is FAKE! pic.twitter.com/7UwBTmG9ZA
11) Stinger (Columbus Blue Jackets) 15th in 2018-19, 27th in 2017-18
Stinger’s quips with Greg Wyshynski are amusing and have us concerned about just how sentient all NHL mascots have become in today’s world. We’d hate for him to sting us next. The Blue Jackets, in the meantime, are slowly being forgiven over the years for the mistake that was Boomer. Meanwhile, Elvis Merzlikins’ post-win celebrations might merit their own felt-based mascot sometime soon.
10) Louie (St. Louis Blues) 14th in 2018-19, 12th in 2017-18
The Blues win one Cup in 52 years and everyone loses their minds except one being– Louie. Louie will never give you up. He’s never going to let you down (anymore). He’s never going to run around and desert you. Also, he’s just really nice, so let’s reward him with Top-10 status this season.
9) Stormy (Carolina Hurricanes) 24th in 2018-19, 28th in 2017-18
Our biggest improvement this season belongs to none other than Stormy. It may or may not have something to do with him rocking Hartford Whalers gear on Whalers Night for the past two seasons, but the Hurricanes mascot is looking fine as ever in every thread that covers that hog body.
Plus we’ll give bonus points for Hamilton the Pig and free street-cred to the wonderful fans that own and care for Hamilton.
Whale would you look at that 🐋 pic.twitter.com/r3pLoxEBDX— Stormy (@NHLStormy) January 11, 2020
8) Blades the Bruin (Boston Bruins) 8th in 2018-19, 5th in 2017-18
The Bruins almost saw Blades fall in this year’s rankings if it weren’t for how well he’s able to pull off that “B” on their new alternate jerseys. It seems fitting that Blades wears the first letter of his name big and bright on his jersey once in a while. Now if only we could get him to do a backflip or something.
Patrice Bergeron, the #NHLBruins, and @985TheSportsHub teamed up for the 2020 Pucks & Paddles ping pong tournament on Friday, raising $125,000 for Floating Hospital for Children at @TuftsMedicalCtr.— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 18, 2020
📸 Full Photo Gallery: https://t.co/HB8b7UILn8 pic.twitter.com/qf7sLedcki
7) Carlton the Bear (Toronto Maple Leafs) 11th in 2018-19, 13th in 2017-18
The Maple Leafs mascot is in the Top-10 for the first time in our ranking and he is looking classier than ever before for some reason. Did someone say “everything old is new again”? Because he’s old, but never going out of style. Alexa, play “Style” by Taylor Swift while we jam with Carlton the Bear and his friends.
6) Fin (Vancouver Canucks) 7th in 2018-19, 10th in 2017-18
Slow but steady has been the progress of the Canucks over the last few years that this season they might make the playoffs and next season Fin just might make the Top-5 in our mascot ranking. Unfortunately for Vancouver’s favorite orca, he’s just one spot shy of being a certified superstar in the making.
5) Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers) 4th in 2018-19, 29th* in 2017-18 (pre-Gritty)
We swear we didn’t take the easy way out by picking Gritty as this year’s
top 5th place mascot, but would you honestly blame us if we did? We are all gritizens these days anyway and Gritty rules us all. It certainly helps that the Flyers introduced their “Disassembly Room” and continue to go all-in on the chaos that Gritty brings everywhere he goes.
Plus, look at all the props, costumes and sheer grit that Philly’s orange monster has for each and every event, game and everything in between.
(We also wrote this before learning of the current allegations against Philadelphia’s beloved orange ball of fur.)
Am I doing this right? pic.twitter.com/p3EQZzvYbD— Gritty (@GrittyNHL) January 22, 2020
4) Iceburgh (Pittsburgh Penguins) 1st in 2018-19, 7th in 2017-18
Iceburgh won top-dog– er, penguin– in last season’s mascot ranking, but things have cooled off for a bit while the Penguins mascot comes down from the many highs of being the No. 1 mascot. He’s ready to settle down and chill in his nest for a while, then go right back for the krill next year.
3) Sabretooth (Buffalo Sabres) 6th in 2018-19, 8th in 2017-18
Just look at how phenomenal the Sabres’ 50th anniversary sweaters are, then look how much they bring out all the best qualities in Sabretooth to the forefront of this rising mascot in the ranking.
Sabretooth’s a shoe-in for Runner-Up or First Place next season when Buffalo goes back to royal blue as their primary color. The question is, will Sabretooth’s stripes change accordingly?
2) S.J. Sharkie (San Jose Sharks) 2nd in 2018-19, 2nd in 2017-18
For the third year in-a-row, S.J. Sharkie came in 2nd in our ranking. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that we think Sharkie won’t be able to win this competition like how the Sharks always find a way to disappoint their fans before (or during) the Final.
One of these years, San Jose. One of these years. Unfortunately it won’t be this year, as the Sharks are likely to miss the postseason and don’t even have their first round pick.
1) N.J. Devil (New Jersey Devils) 13th in 2018-19, 16th in 2017-18
What’s hotter than hell these days? The N.J. Devil himself.
Seriously, just look at this gorgeous mascot and you too will start questioning if you’re really that attracted to his facial hair or the fact that this guy can bench more than your cousin Tony. New Jersey, your next reason to shutdown your beaches is right in front of you and it looks way hotter.
Also, has there ever been a more relatable mascot that loves pizza just like us?
In all seriousness though, all of the league’s mascots do a great job of being an entertaining part of the game, as well as wonderful ambassadors for spreading kindness and cheer in their community.
Hats off to the people living inside the sweaty costumes and the marketing teams behind them.