Harvey the Hound, SJ Sharkie, Mick E. Moose and, of course, Youppi all appear in this top 10 ranking of the NHL’s best mascots.
What does it take to be a good mascot? Cool look? Rich history? Wild pre-game entrances? Funny in-game antics? As a group, THN has ranked the
top 10 mascots before in our
Ultimate Book of Hockey Lists. I’m going to set out on my own with this ranking. The best mascots have a bit of everything. Here we go…
10. SPARTACAT, OTTAWA SENATORS
The Senators mascot has been around since the (second) beginning in 1992. He has the best hockey hair of any NHL mascot, so that counts for something. That counts for a lot of something. Spartacat looks friendly, yet unpredictable, two positive mascot characteristics. He’s not perfect, but he sticks out.
9. MICK E. MOOSE, WINNIPEG JETS
Started from the bottom now he’s here. The Jets mascot deserves credit for paying his dues over the years. His first incarnation was with the Manitoba Moose of the International League. That team and its mascot would join the American League in 2001 after the IHL folded and became affiliated with an NHL team for the first time: the Vancouver Canucks. He was part of the Moose organization for 15 years, but when the Jets were transplanted from Atlanta, he put on the aviator helmet and graduated to the NHL.
8. GNASH, NASHVILLE PREDATORS
The Predators mascot has an
elaborate back story that includes a real-life reference to a 1971 discovery of sabertooth tiger bones in a cave below Nashville. This
clip of Gnash entrances is…intense. Especially that first one. He’s pretty good at the taunting game, too. When the Jets made their first appearance in Nashville after moving from Atlanta, he
put on a Thrashers jersey.
7. FIN AND THE GREEN MEN, VANCOUVER CANUCKS
We’re giving the Canucks a nod on two mascots: the official one and the two unofficial ones. First, the official. Fin’s unique ability is to blow mist out of his blowhole. He does this for entertainment purposes, or when his credit card gets pulled from the hat after dinner. He’s also known for chomping the heads off fans around the arena. Then there’s the unofficial. If you don’t know who Sully and Force are, you’re probably new to the NHL. The Green Men have many highlights.
Here is a montage.
6. BAILEY, LOS ANGELES KINGS
The Kings mascot gets his name from Garnet “Ace” Bailey, a seven-year scouting director for the Kings who died in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Bailey is part of a very active Kings
social media presence. He just made a moral victory crack today. (Get it, Vancouver?) Bailey may be a hockey guy, but he can cross over into other sports too. Here he is
beating Dwight Howard at free throws when the big center played for the Los Angeles Lakers.
5. AL THE OCTOPUS, DETROIT RED WINGS
The Red Wings mascot is being included because he is part of a long tradition and is unique in that he’s a prop who overlooks from above. The history of octopi among Detroit fans goes all the way back to 1952 when the first one was thrown on Olympia Stadium ice. The eight tentacles marked the eight playoff wins it took win the Cup back then. Today, in the post-season, two Als are raised to the rafters to mark the 16 wins it takes now. He’s named Al after long-time arena manager
Al Sobotka. He looks mean and menacing, probably still angry about the banning of octopus throwing at Joe Louis Arena.
4. WILD WING, ANAHEIM DUCKS
In the world of NHL mascots, Anaheim’s Wild Wing is a Teemu Selanne of sorts. No, he won’t be making the Hall of Fame anytime soon, but the Ducks mascot has been around for a long time – since the team’s inception in 1994 to be exact. Wild Wing is a throw back to the days of the Mighty Ducks and cartoony logos. Forget about the Disney connection and he’s a pretty cool looking mascot with the “get out of my face” eyes and vintage
Casey Jones, err,
Gerry Cheevers goalie mask.
3. SJ SHARKIE, SAN JOSE SHARKS
In 2012, S.J. Sharkie won the Cartoon Network’s
Most Awesome Mascot Award, so there’s no denying his awesomeness. But Sharkie is perhaps best known for the time he got
stuck high above the ice as he was rappelling in. He even has
his own IMDB page, which lists his appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in 1999.
2. HARVEY THE HOUND, CALGARY FLAMES
The Flames mascot has had a hard life. He’s had his
tongue pulled out, he’s been
overrun by a flood…and he has to see every Flames home game this season. He holds the distinction of being the first NHL mascot when he was introduced in 1983. Plus he’s got style. That hat is awesome.
1. YOUPPI!, MONTREAL CANADIENS
The only NHL mascot to ever be
tossed from a game by a MLB umpire, Youppi was transplanted from the Montreal Expos after the franchise picked up and moved to Washington. He became the first mascot to be a representative of a professional team in two different sports and also was the first in Habs history. Youppi first appeared in 1979 and was designed by Bonnie Erickson, who used to work with Jim Henson and had a hand in countless Muppet characters. Youppi is silly, unique and loveable, as a mascot should be, but he’s also a mystery. What the heck is Youppi? From where did he come?
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