The NHL®’s Most Recognizable Mascots
From show-stopping stunts to dominating social media – mascots remain a special beacon that spread such added spirit to the fan community and NHL® game-going experience. Here are a few of the most memorable hockey mascots working in an arena near you today.
S.J. Sharkie, the mascot for the San Jose Sharks since 1992, performs various stunts at Sharks games such as rappelling from the rafters or driving a four-wheeler across the ice. S.J. Sharkie had a brief claim to national fame in 1999, when he got stuck while descending from the rafters before a game, and spent the entire National Anthem and team introductions 40 feet above the ice.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Iceburgh
Today, the Penguins employ Iceburgh, an ice-skating penguin with a chin like Mr. Incredible. But he’s not the original mascot. Back in 1968, the Penguins were home to Penguin Pete, an Ecuadorian penguin on loan from the local zoo. Pete was succeeded by another live penguin mascot, Re-Pete, in 1971. Iceburgh debuted in 1991, and made an appearance in the 1995 Jean-Claude Van Damme film ‘Sudden Death.’ Iceburgh is a staple of the Penguins’ community outreach, appearing at many local events benefitting youth hospitals, veterans, and more.
Boston Bruins – Blades the Bruin
The Bruins gave their smiling bear mascot a full backstory, and it is adorable. Unwilling or unable to hibernate, he stumbled on a game of hockey being played on a frozen pond. He fell in love with the game and couldn’t get enough of it, and eventually snuck into the back of the truck of Johnny Bucyk (who played for the Bruins from 1958-1978) and came to Boston Garden. The story goes that Bucyk invited Blades to become the team’s new mascot and he accepted, thinking the Bruins also were bears like him. See? Adorable.
Having a bald eagle for a mascot just makes sense for a team playing in the nation’s capital. The Capitals introduced Slapshot in 1995, and he was named by a fifth grader from Virginia who won a contest. He appears at every Capitals home game and is often joined by his sidekicks, Air Slapshot and Hat Trick. Slapshot normally dons a Capitals jersey with his number 00, but trades the jersey for other costumes during seasonal events.
Gnash is the saber-toothed tiger mascot for the Nashville Predators. While it may seem like the carnivorous cat is a random predator chosen to go with the team’s name, it is in fact a piece of local lore. During construction of a skyscraper in downtown Nashville, crews found the skeleton of a saber-toothed cat.
Anaheim Ducks – Wild Wing
Wild Wing is a throwback to the Ducks’ original logo, back when they were the Mighty Ducks, a name borrowed from the Disney movies of the ’90s. In the animated series, also running in the ’90s, Wild Wing’s last name is “Flashblade.”
The Devils’ logo bears a resemblance to the mythological “Jersey Devil” or “Leeds Devil,” said to haunt the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. That devil has cloven hooves, large leathery wings like a bat, a goat’s head, and various other mismatched parts, depending on the version you hear. Thankfully, the team went with a more traditional “evil butler” look for N.J. Devil.
The lynx is known across the league, and to mascot-minded fans of all sports, as the most terrifying mascot in the business. Hunter is named after Bill Hunter, who helped bring the Oilers to Edmonton.
Philadelphia Flyers – Gritty
Gritty has taken the Internet by storm. Folks were baffled when the Flyers unveiled the new mascot at the beginning of the season, but fascination soon turned to obsession. Gritty-Mania has reached the point that the Philadelphia City Council passed an official resolution welcoming him to the city. Like local fan favorite and greatest sports mascot of all time the Philly Phanatic, Gritty’s origins are hard to pin down. He’s one part Jim Henson, two parts Maurice Sendak. But however you describe him, it’s clear that Gritty is bizarre enough to hold the nation’s attention for a good long while.