Summer is over and with the regular season approaching next week, why not one more fun edition of the PHT Power Rankings. This week we look some of the most absurd mascots — and mascot stories — in NHL history.
The Philadelphia Flyers unleashed their new mascot, Gritty, on the world on Monday and it would be very fair to say that it caused quite a reaction.
For as wild as it might be it is still, at its core, a typical mascot — goofy looking, ridiculous, and something to mostly laugh at. It is not the first, nor will it be the last, such creation.
Still, it is pretty ridiculous even by NHL mascot standards.
So let’s take a look at where it ranks among the most absurd mascots in NHL history.
1. Boomer (Columbus Blue Jackets)
At the start of the 2010-11 season the Columbus Blue Jackets attempted to introduce a secondary mascot that went by the name, “Boomer.” When talking about ridiculous mascots there is Boomer, and then there are the rest. Boomer is simply in a category all his own.
He was supposed to be an anthropomorphic cannon, but the actual design resembled something more along the lines of … well … let’s just say Boomer didn’t make it through the entire season before being unceremoniously retired at mid-season.
He was only supposed to be at games where the team was wearing its new third jerseys for that season, and upon his introduction he was described by the Blue Jackets as “a kid-friendly, cushy cannon character with a friendly face and fluffy moustache reminiscent of a Civil War-era general.”
Nope. That is not what he looked like, Columbus.
2. Penguin Pete (Pittsburgh Penguins)
In their early years the Pittsburgh Penguins were never-ending series of bloopers, mishaps and even tragedy. Everything they did had a way of going wrong, including their first experience with a mascot.
During their inaugural season the Penguins introduced Penguin Pete, an actual Humboldt Penguin that was on loan from the Pittsburgh Zoo. He made his initial debut in a February, 1968 game against the Boston Bruins and then made a handful of other appearances that season before dying of pneumonia the following November.
Everything about this experience was baffling.
First, there was the fact that the Penguins had wanted to teach him how to ice skate and had tried to have custom CCM hockey skates made for him.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1968:
This, of course, failed.
Eventually, Pete came down with pneumonia and his saga and become emblematic of the team’s on-ice struggles.
The whole Penguin Pete experience was told in the team’s 50th anniversary documentary a few years ago, right down to the fact he was stuffed and temporarily kept in the team’s offices.
3. Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers)
It’s a combination of factors. It’s the look. It’s the way it was introduced. Everything about is just absurd, in the most amazing way. Read all about Gritty here.
4. Harvey the Hound (Calgary Flames)
At the end of the day there is nothing really too outrageous about Harvey, the Calgary Flames’ mascot, other than the fact he’s an animal that wears a funny hat and has on pants (but, for some reason, no shirt). But I’m including him on this list because of an incident that happened in January of 2004 when, in a Battle of Alberta game against the Edmonton Oilers, he took to heckling the Oilers’ bench with the Flames leading 4-0.
That resulted in then-Oilers coach Craig MacTavish ripping Harvey’s tongue out of his mouth and throwing it into the crowd.
A trash-talking mascot that gets a part of his costume ripped off by an NHL coach during a game? Sign me up.
5. NYisles (New York Islanders)
In the pre-Charles Wang Islanders days their lovable(?) mascot was NYIsles, who was simply described as a “seafaring Islander.”
He had a big head and wore a hockey helmet with a goal-light on top of it and was just … kind of funny. Honestly, this is what you think of when you think of 1980s or early 1990s sports mascots.
Here he is in action.
Dishonorable mention: Howler the Yeti (Colorado Avalanche)
Howler the Yeti was the first mascot for the Avalanche following their move to Colorado, and he was a giant Yeti that was … kind of cool looking. He was ultimately retired though after he was involved in a “fracas” in the stands of the McNichols Sports Arena in 1999 that left a Chicago Blackhawks fan injured. Both the fan and Howler were ticketed for disturbing the peace. The Avalanche eventually replaced him with Bernie the St. Bernard.
While I can appreciate a mascot having a bit of an edge, getting into fights with opposing fans is probably not for the best. Absurd, yes. But not good.