The 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame Class was inducted on Monday, plus we remember the NHL Guardians and celebrate Joe Thornton’s milestones. Tomas Plekanec retired– leaving us a turtleneck to pass on ceremoniously– and Milan Lucic was fined $10,000.
The Pittsburgh Penguins’ plight comes with an extension for General Manager Jim Rutherford, while the Los Angeles Kings battle the injury bug in net (we finished recording before Wednesday’s trade between the two clubs).
Meanwhile, Tom Wilson is back, a concussion lawsuit was settled, the 2019 NWHL All-Star Game was announced, Jakob Chychrun got a six-year extension and Nick and Connor discuss when they’ll eventually let their kids (if they ever have any) play contact sports.
I never thought I’d be doing this again, yet here we are. It’s time to begin the continuation of a now annual tradition around here at DTFR. It’s time to rank the NHL mascots.
For the first time since January 2017, here’s the latest look at things.
31) New York RangersLast year’s ranking 30th
They don’t have a mascot, which the old me would’ve said “that’s OK for a franchise that’s over 90-years-old and has one of the easiest nicknames to create a mascot for”, but the new me says “why wouldn’t they want to get in on the post-Gritty hype-train newscycle?” Petition to make Henrik Lundqvist the mascot when he retires someday? Who says “no”?
30) Al the Octopus (Detroit Red Wings)Last year’s ranking 26th
I understand the tradition (8 wins used to win you the Cup back in the day), but 1) inflation exists (it takes 16 wins now to take home the Cup) and 2) it’s a lot easier to make an octopus costume than it is to raise and lower a giant octopus from the rafters every night. I’m just saying.
29) Sparky the Dragon (New York Islanders)Last year’s ranking 25th
Seriously, I still don’t get why they haven’t switched things up to the Gorton’s Fisherman™. Sparky was once the mascot for the Islanders and the New York Dragons (makes sense) Arena Football team until 2009.
Nordy just has a lot going on around the eyes and on the back of his jersey. 18,001? I feel bad for the poor equipment manager that has to iron that on all the sweaters Nordy goes through in a season. Also, he’s got a mullet– this isn’t the Minnesota North Stars, it’s the Wild. I don’t care what you say, I will never be a fan of that hairstyle unless it’s Jaromir Jagr.
Unlike how his team should be rising in the standings this season, Howler’s stock is falling. At least temporarily. It’ll be fun to see Howler in a kachina sweater every Saturday of the regular season, but that’s about it.
Hunter was named after the original owner of the Oilers, William Hunter, and wears No. 72 in reference to the team’s founding as the Alberta Oilers in the World Hockey Association (WHA). He’s a Canadian lynx, so that’s cool, I guess. Other than that, he scares people.
25) Stanley C. Panther/Viktor E. Ratt (Florida Panthers)Last year’s ranking 20th
Not many fans outside of Sunrise, Florida might realize that yes, the Panthers have two official mascots. There’s Stanley C. Panther, which, if you look deep enough into his eyes you’ll start hearing a Sarah McLachlan song for some reason and Viktor E. Ratt, who… exists. 1996 was a weird time.
Be on the lookout for Stormy to take the world by… storm. Since the Hurricanes updated their home jerseys to one of the best in the league, Stormy’s appearance on the outside has improved drastically. Aside from asking the important question, will Stormy wear a Whalers sweater on Whalers Night or will Pucky the Whale make a return to his former franchise? Let’s not negate the fact Stormy likes to roll around in the mud all day.
23) Harvey the Hound (Calgary Flames)Last year’s ranking 18th
As the league’s oldest mascot, there’s a certain charm to the nostalgia of his look. He’s also the only mascot in the league to not be wearing a jersey, excluding Al the Octopus, which shouldn’t really even technically count as a mascot, Detroit. Harvey’s great, but have you seen what googly eyes can do for you these days? Or at least give the poor hound a sweater– preferably one of those sweet alternates the Flames are bringing back.
22) Bernie the St. Bernard (Colorado Avalanche)Last year’s ranking 22nd
The ADIZERO jersey style brought back the mountain design to the Avalanche’s sweaters and that’s improved Bernie’s overall aesthetic, but part of me still misses Howler the Yeti. But hey, dogs like kids, kids like dogs and even cranky old adults (so everyone that’s not a kid) like dogs that save people from avalanches.
21) Spartacat (Ottawa Senators) Last year’s ranking 9th
Spartacat’s fell on hard times and it’s not just because of the Erik Karlsson trade and full-on rebuild in Ottawa. It’s occurred to me since last year nobody’s gotten around to giving his hair a good washing and he doesn’t even have whiskers. So yeah, Spartacat took a fall in the rankings and didn’t land on all-fours, contrary to that myth about cats.
The following is a continuation of the ranking of all of the mascots in the NHL, based on the list of NHL mascots Wikipedia page.
25. Sparky the Dragon- New York Islanders
Sparky the Dragon double-dipped as the mascot of the Islanders, wearing blue and orange during Islanders games, and pink, red and black for the New York Dragons (Arena Football) team until 2009. This mascot made sense for the Dragons, considering, hello, Sparky the Dragon is a dragon. But unfortunately for minority Isles owner, Charles Wang (who also owned the New York Dragons), you can’t always get what you want from applying one thing to satisfy two needs.
What was so wrong about the Gorton’s fisherman era Islanders? Honestly, just take that concept and make it a walking thing that creeps on people– I mean, takes pictures with fans and ensures everyone is having a good time at Barclays Center. Plus, the 90s are cool again and most likely every hipster in Brooklyn would flock to an arena that’s ill-fitted for hockey to 1) learn who the Islanders are and 2) dig the on fleek colors of the fisherman (is that what they say now?).
24. Nordy- Minnesota Wild
Everyone says Nordy looks like Alex from Madagascar and while I won’t disagree, I will say that Nordy looks pretty bad. It doesn’t help that the Wild applied their bear logo across his face, for starters. Plus his mane is a bit unkempt.
Come to think of it, I don’t really know what really makes Nordy quite an unattractive mascot. Maybe it’s his number. I mean, 18,001 is a bit much to fit on a jersey. Plus his smile just screams “help me”, “get me out of here” or something along those lines. Minnesota made an attempt. That’s good. He is a lot less creepy than some mascots in the MLB (looking at you– actually, all of the MLB mascots except for Wally the Green Monster). But for NHL mascots, Nordy doesn’t rank quite as well.
23. Hunter- Edmonton Oilers
Shouts to the Edmonton Oilers for finally introducing a mascot to their organization for their first time in franchise history this season. Hunter’s namesake comes from the original owner of the then Alberta Oilers of the World Hockey Association, Bill Hunter.
But that’s about it for cutesy comments about this sure to devour anyone in its path looking mascot. Look, Hunter’s a great name for the Oilers considering it pays homage to the aforementioned Bill Hunter, but it’s probably not a great name for a lynx that for sure is a carnivore and hunts things. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me or something. Regardless, Edmonton, you tried. Am I glad you finally have a mascot, yes. It’s just a little… creepy.
22. Bernie the St. Bernard- Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche have been feeling the Bern since they switched up their mascot from Howler the Yeti to Bernie the St. Bernard in 2009. For the first few years of Bernie’s existence, I could live with the change.
Yet, as I grow older, I become more nostalgic and cranky towards change. Howler the Yeti was better. Even in the franchise’s days as the Québec Nordiques, whatever this thing was that was the Nordiques mascot was better than this alien-looking dog (look at Bernie’s eyes and tell me he’s not something from Area 51, speaking of which, there’s an idea for you, Vegas Golden Knights, give us an alien). And what’s with the barrel, Bernie? What are you hiding from us and how did you get that past security?
21. Howler- Arizona Coyotes
Howler isn’t all that bad, just not that great. He’s average. The kind of mascot that you can be proud of, but wish could do more. Put him in a kachina jersey all year and he’d probably jump up 20 spots in my rankings.
Other than that, I really don’t have any reason why Howler fits in at 21st overall. He just does. Maybe it’s his face. Yeah, come to think of it, his face kind of bothers me. It’s almost too perfect and kind of oddly angled to a point for a nose. That thing’s probably sharp and could poke out someone’s eye. Minus 10 points for safety.