The NHL’s costumed hockey heroes fire us up and warm our hearts. Who’s No. 1?
There’s more than one way to define a great mascot. Some get by on fabulously intimidating or memorable looks. It’s awfully difficult to screw up the giant shark in San Jose, for instance. Others wow the fans with acrobatics thanks to the hardworking people inside the suits. Modern-day mascots also take their acts on the road and online, extending their reaches globally. Mascots in generations past did all their work in stadiums and arenas. Nowadays it’s a badge of honor if a mascot’s taunting tweet goes viral.
Who are the NHL’s best costumed entertainers today? The elite combine all the qualities listed above. As for mascots we’ve ranked at the bottom: no hard feelings, furry folk. There’s no such thing as a deadbeat mascot – we know how hard you work to entertain the fans – so the bottom-dweller rankings don’t reflect the people wearing the suits. No, they’re penalized for being hung out to dry by lame, ugly, tone-deaf or downright terrifying concept designs from their team brain trusts. Any child claiming not to have nightmares after meeting the Oilers’ Hunter is lying. Any person claiming to know what the Stars’ Victor E. Green is supposed to be is also lying.
We present to you the top 29 mascots. That’s right, 29. Seems the Rangers and Flyers don’t like fun.
Los Angeles Kings mascot Bailey The Lion.
1. BAILEY THE LION (Los Angeles Kings)
Checks every box. Instantly recognizable, rambunctious and, best of all, he’s cutting edge, with a strong Twitter presence.
Anaheim Ducks mascot Wild Wing.
2. WILD WING (Anaheim Ducks)
The first NHL mascot to rappel from the rafters to the ice. His in-game antics set a standard for other mascots to follow.
San Jose Sharks mascot SJ Sharkie.
3. SJ SHARKIE (San Jose Sharks)
Coolest-looking mascot in hockey. So popular he once took a student to her senior prom. And he bit Don Cherry!
Pittsburgh Penguins mascot Iceburgh.
4. ICEBURGH (Pittsburgh Penguins)
You know you’re iconic when you face Jean-Claude Van Damme 1-on-1 in Sudden Death’s most famous fight scene.
Nashville Predators mascot Gnash.
5. GNASH (Nashville Predators)
Wild Wing did the rappel first, but the acrobatic Gnash perfected it. He’s also a vicious and witty chirper on social media.
Calgary Flames mascot Harvey The Hound.
6. HARVEY THE HOUND (Calgary Flames)
Excels at getting under opponents’ skin. Harvey once got his tongue ripped out by then-Oilers coach Craig MacTavish.
Winnipeg Jets mascot Mick E. Moose.
7. MICK E. MOOSE (Winnipeg Jets)
Lovable look. Great nickname. Worked his way up from the AHL, where he spent 15 seasons with the Manitoba Moose.
Washington Capitals mascot Slapshot.
8. SLAPSHOT (Washington Capitals)
Among the best-looking mascots. Even dressed as Stephen King’s “It” for Halloween. Loses points for a lame name.
Boston Bruins mascot Blades The Bruin.
9. BLADES THE BRUIN (Boston Bruins)
The Bruins didn’t overthink it. He’s a fierce-looking bear. Also tours schools in spare time reading to kids. A good guy.
Vancouver Canucks mascot Fin The Whale.
10. FIN THE WHALE (Vancouver Canucks)
Fin’s body proportions seem off, but that makes his look all the more intimidating. Those are good traits in a mascot.
Montreal Canadiens mascot Youppi!
11. YOUPPI! (Montreal Canadiens)
Would rank several slots higher if he was an original Hab. Have to dock points since he’s adopted from baseball.
Vegas Golden Knights mascot Chance The Gila Monster.
12. CHANCE THE GILA MONSTER (Vegas Golden Knights)
Vegas could’ve taken low-hanging fruit with gambling theme. Instead, it honors desert setting with a lizard. Awesome.
New Jersey Devils mascot NJ Devil.
13. NJ DEVIL (New Jersey Devils)
Tough to have a demon mascot without making him too scary. Devils pull it off, albeit with a slight ripoff of ‘The Count.’
Ottawa Senators mascot Spartacat.
14. SPARTACAT (Ottawa Senators)
He’s 25 years old and fits the centurion theme nicely, but he’s overshadowed by the similar and superior Bailey.
Buffalo Sabres mascot Sabretooth.
15. SABRETOOTH (Buffalo Sabres)
Same problem as Spartacat. Sabretooth may be too adorable for his own good, and feels like inferior version of Gnash.
Arizona Coyotes mascot Howler.
16. HOWLER (Arizona Coyotes)
One of the better-looking mascots. Also one of the youngest. Lacks the iconic status and large fan base of the elite.
Columbus Blue Jackets mascot Stinger.
17. STINGER (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Yikes. Hard on the eyes, isn’t he? Can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not. It makes him memorable, at least.
Chicago Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk.
18. TOMMY HAWK (Chicago Blackhawks)
Meh. Nothing wrong with him, really, but nothing about Tommy says “majestic bird of prey,” which is what a hawk is.
Florida Panthers mascots Victor E. Ratt and Stanley C. Panther.
19. VICTOR E. RATT & STANLEY C. PANTHER (Florida Panthers)
Thumbs up to Victor who, as a rat, is tied to the biggest piece of franchise lore. Stanley: generic and unoriginally named.
Toronto Maple Leafs mascot Carlton The Bear.
20. CARLTON THE BEAR (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Leafs in tough spot given their name – imagine a giant furry leaf! – but Carlton’s persona is among NHL’s most benign.
Tampa Bay Lightning mascot Thunderbug.
21. THUNDERBUG (Tampa Bay Lightning)
What does an insect have to do with…lightning? He looks like something you’d dangle on a mobile above a baby’s crib.
New York Islanders mascot Sparky The Dragon.
22. SPARKY THE DRAGON (New York Islanders)
A dragon for a mascot is quite appealing. It’s also cheating. You’re the Islanders. Embrace the fisherman.
Edmonton Oilers mascot Hunter The Lynx.
23. HUNTER THE LYNX (Edmonton Oilers)
The most frightening mascot in pro sports. It looks ready to eat children at all times. A hilariously disturbing misfire.
Minnesota Wild mascot Nordy.
24. NORDY (Minnesota Wild)
Nordy is a confusingly nameless species. Also got bad press for violent skit in which he beat Tommy Hawk with a bat.
St. Louis Blues mascot Louie The Bear.
25. LOUIE THE BEAR (St. Louis Blues)
Even Louie’s official bio says he’s from the Arctic Circle. Blues don’t even pretend he has anything to do with them.
Colorado Avalanche mascot Bernie The St. Bernard.
26. BERNIE THE ST. BERNARD (Colorado Avalanche)
Connecting Bernie to the Avs requires an understanding of St. Bernards being avalanche rescue dogs. That’s a stretch.
Carolina Hurricanes mascot Stormy.
27. STORMY (Carolina Hurricanes)
The name works. Otherwise Canes fans are treated to a pig who looks a lot like a dog. Woof indeed. An uninspired choice.
Dallas Stars mascot Victor E. Green.
28. VICTOR E. GREEN (Dallas Stars)
Imagine pitch meeting for this booger-like abomination. “What is he, exactly?” “Umm…what do YOU think he is?”
Detroit Red Wings mascot Al The Octopus.
29. AL THE OCTOPUS (Detroit Red Wings)
The only mascot without an actual human operator – and it glorifies animal cruelty. Doubling down on ineptitude.