Beware of the fan poll: How each NHL team received its name

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redwingslogo.gifI’m a sucker for origin stories. While it’s fairly certain that the world doesn’t need to know why Batman fights crime anymore, I find that one of the most interesting questions to ask is “How did we get here?” So it’s no surprise that I was delighted to read this story from the Palm Beach Post that covers how each team in the NHL stumbled upon their names.

(There seems to be two central themes to the team naming process: 1) it’s dangerous to allow quirky owners to create team names, even if it occasionally results in something iconic and 2) giving fans the right to name the team can result in some wacky mascots.)

Anyway, here are a few of the most interesting entries, with a sporadic comment or two inserted here and there.

Buffalo Sabres

The team was founded in 1970. Owners had an interest in polo and were fascinated with cavalry, knight and chivalry themes.

See: theme No. 1 above. For some reason that reasoning made me giggle.

Detroit Red Wings

Founded in 1926 as the Detroit Cougars, the team was renamed Falcons in 1930. In 1932, the new owner, who had once played for Winged Wheelers of Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, renamed team “Red Wings” and adopted winged wheel logo.

I’m still not sure that actually makes sense, but a strange preference by an owner (again, see theme No. 1) resulted in one of the greatest logos in all of team sports.

Minnesota Wild

The North Stars, who were founded in 1967, moved to Dallas in 1993. When a new franchise awarded to Minnesota in 1997, “Wild” was picked in a name-the-team contest. The team said the name honored Minnesota’s rugged natural wilderness. Other finalists: Blue Ox, Freeze, Northern Lights, Voyageurs, White Bears.

Does anyone else find it astonishing that the Wild was actually the best choice of the finalists, at least if you consider the fact that the Northern Lights would be too close to the North Stars? It doesn’t change the fact that the Wild is an inexplicable attack on grammar and good mascot sense, though.

Montreal Canadiens

When the National Hockey Association was founded in 1909, Montreal already had a team comprised of English-speaking players called the Montreal Wanderers. A group then founded a team of French-speaking players and called it “Les Canadiens,” French for Canadian. The NHA became NHL in 1917. “CH” on front of Canadiens uniform is French for “Club de Hockey Canadien.” In 1920s, New York Rangers owner Tex Rickard had picked up on a rumor that the “H” was for “habitants,” a French slang term for a Quebec farmer. The nickname stuck and was later shortened to “Habs.”

It never hurts to include an explanation of why people call the Canadiens the “Habs.”

New Jersey Devils

When the Colorado Rockies moved to New Jersey in 1982, newspapers held a naming contest that led to Devils. The legend of “New Jersey Devil” dates back 250 years. It says a woman in southern New Jersey who dabbled in witchcraft gave birth to a 13th child, a demonic creature that was part man, bat, snake and kangaroo. Creature supposedly continues to torment region.

Apparently the New Jersey Devil creates smog, nasally accents and cranky citizens. Still, I might pay money to see a creature that is “part man, bat, snake and kangaroo.”

Tampa Bay Lightning

Shortly before the franchise was awarded in 1990, team management was meeting during a thunderstorm and saw bolt of lightning, inspiring name.

That’s a pretty neat little story, right there.

So those were my favorite of the bunch, but if you want to learn more about why your favorite, most hated or any other NHL team got its name click here. It’s fascinating stuff.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

Point gets Lightning extra point against Kane, Blackhawks

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The Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Chicago Blackhawks – barely – on Wednesday to leapfrog back over the St. Louis Blues for the top record in the NHL.

The Bolts capitalized on a power-play opportunity in overtime, with Brayden Point scoring the decisive goal in a 3-2 OT win. It was an exciting overtime period, with Point being stopped all in alone earlier in the OT, and the same happening to Patrick Kane on a breakaway.

Kane had been getting the best of the Lightning earlier in the game, scoring the first two goals of the contest in the first period. Not a lot of players can make plays like this off the rush:

Then again, few teams can score a goal this pretty, especially while shorthanded:

Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov collected assists on Wednesday, but the top line (including Nikita Kucherov) failed to score a goal, though they created quite a few chances. The best – at least in regulation – came when Stamkos seized an opportunity against the Blackhawks, but Corey Crawford was game:

Wow.

Again, both goalies made some big stops. Here’s that Kane miss in OT, with Andrei Vasilevskiy depriving number 88 from a hat trick:

So, with that, the Lightning hold a one-point standings edge (34 to 33) over the Blues in the early race for the Presidents’ Trophy, and most importantly, gives them a five-point edge in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay’s impressive start to 2017-18 is especially notable since they’ve played one fewer game than St. Louis and two fewer than the Toronto Maple Leafs (the second-ranked team in the up-and-down Atlantic).

Check out the logjam at second-to-last in the competitive Central for Chicago, as of this writing, with these three teams all at 21 games played:

Dallas Stars: 11-9-1, 23 points
Blackhawks: 10-8-3, 23 points
Minnesota Wild: 10-8-3, 23 points

It has to be a little frustrating for the Blackhawks to see a two-goal lead dissolve, but plenty of teams would struggle to secure such an edge against the powerhouse Lightning. Maybe the Blackhawks will gain some confidence in merely sticking with them (and grabbing a point for their troubles).

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Much-needed response from Oilers vs. Red Wings

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One win can’t cleanse the palate of a bitter 21-game start, but beggars can’t be choosers, and the Edmonton Oilers really needed a W tonight.

That’s not to say it would be easy, either, as they faced a rested Red Wings team in Detroit to close off a back-to-back after Tuesday’s humiliating loss to the St. Louis Blues. Edmonton got that sorely needed response, chasing Jimmy Howard and beating the Red Wings 6-2.

While Connor McDavid (two assists) and Leon Draisaitl (one helper) made their typical impacts, it’s especially heartening for the Oilers to see less-obvious names show up in the box score. Jesse Puljujarvi, Jujhar Khaira, Mark Letestu, and Drake Caggiula ranked among goalscorers, while Ryan Strome collected a pair of assists.

Any bit of confidence gained, particularly for supporting cast members, could be very important for the fledgling Oilers.

It doesn’t take long to ruin the party; now at 8-12-2, the Oilers’ 18 standings points still leave them at second-worst in the West.

Still, all the Oilers can do right now is gradually, slowly dig themselves out of the troubling hole they’ve created for themselves. This won’t be easy, and even this early on, they might need a few other teams to hit a wall.

But, hey, it’s better than the nothing this team showed last night, right?

Catch up on Edmonton’s struggles

Why they’re the NHL’s most disappointing team

The uncomfortable parallels between McDavid and Jack Eichel

These struggles are the results of some bad moves from Peter Chiarelli

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Scott Darling: Latest goalie beaten from center ice (Video)

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Here’s a thought: considering an 82-game regular season and about a two-month-long postseason, it’s almost a little surprising that we don’t see more center-ice goals.

Such a goal can happen in so many ways. A puck can take an odd bounce. A goalie might take his eye off the puck for a second while deciding what to do next, much like an NFL receiver who drops an easy pass while dreaming of those sweet, sweet, yards up ahead.

So, let’s not be too hard on Carolina Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling, who padded Mika Zibanejad‘s already-robust goal totals with the center-ice flub you can see in the video above.

If you prefer a GIF form, this one nails the spirit of the thing:

(Agreed, little emoticon monkey. Agreed.)

Since we’re on the subject of goals netminders would want back even more than usual, we might as well also consider Tyler Ennis beating Chad Johnson here:

Ouch. Hey, we’ve all been there (vaguely speaking).

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks – Lightning, Wednesday Night Rivalry

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The latest edition of “Wednesday Night Rivalry” features a rematch of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, as the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Chicago Blackhawks.

During that competitive series, the Blackhawks were the favorites. The tide has turned now, however, as the dynamite duo of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov have propelled the Bolts to the upper crust of the NHL. Chicago, meanwhile, strains to remain a contender.

But it’s worth noting that the Blackhawks cannot be taken lightly. They still feature Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Corey Crawford, so tonight should provide plenty of entertainment.

Along with watching on NBCSN, you can also check the action out on online and via the NBC Sports App.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE