We like to take an occasional look back at some significant moments in NHL history. This is the PHT Time Machine. Today we look back to some of the league’s greatest — or perhaps even unfortunate — mascot and jersey blunders. April Fools Day seems like a fitting day to look back on some of these doomed ideas.
Boomer gets silenced
You can not talk about mascot blunders without talking about Boomer, the short-lived and ultimately doomed mascot for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Boomer was introduced during the 2010-11 season and was supposed to serve as the team’s secondary mascot alongside Stinger. He was an anthropomorphic cannon that was inspired by the cannon that shakes Nationwide Arena after every Blue Jackets goal. It seemed like a pretty good idea in theory.
In theory being the key words here.
In reality, the Blue Jackets ended up getting this.
His, um, appearance ultimately resulted in him being very quietly retired a couple of months later in the middle of the season with little fanfare. A shame, really. This costume almost certainly still exists somewhere, and we can only hope it is again unleashed on the world.
This is where mascots meet tragedy and absurdity.
Penguin Pete was the first mascot of the Pittsburgh Penguins and he was an actual Ecuadorian-born Humboldt penguin. The team would parade him around on the ice until he died from pneumonia in November, 1968. Immediately after his death Pete was stuff and kept on display in the Civic Arena offices until there were some complaints about his presence.
Pete’s death did not stop the Penguins from trying the same thing again a few years later when they introduced a second Penguin mascot named — quite literally — “Re-Pete.”
Re-Pete survived the 1971-72 season.
The Penguins then went without an official mascot until they introduced IceBurgh during the 1993-94 season. IceBurgh is your typical run of the mill mascot, other than the fact it also had a pretty grim cameo in a major motion picture.
The Islanders Fishstick uniforms
The 1990s were not a great decade for the New York Islanders.
Other than a cinderella run to the 1993 Wales Conference Finals, the team made just one other playoff appearance in the decade and was stuck in a rut of poor ownership, management, and all around bad results on the ice.
At the start of the 1995 season the braintrust of organization decided that it was time for a fresh start and a new look to get things turned around and going in the right direction. That meant a complete rebranding of the the team, a new logo, and new uniforms.
Gone were the iconic jerseys that featured the “NY” and map of Long Island, and in was a hockey version of the Gorton’s Fisherman logo.
Islanders fans loathed it, rival fans mocked it, and I … kind of loved it? I remember asking for a Ziggy Palffy jersey for Christmas one year even though I wasn’t even an Islanders fan (I just liked the jersey and thought Ziggy Palffy was pretty good). I never got it.
The team eventually altered the uniform a bit by keeping the same color scheme and concept, only replacing the Fisherman with the original NY logo. Those did not last long, either.
New York-based author Nick Hirshon wrote a fantastic book about this era of Islanders hockey called “We Want Fishsticks” and it is a wildly entertaining read on what was, at the time, one of the most dysfunctional organizations in pro sports. Check it out.
For the first 20-plus years of their existence the Buffalo Sabres had one of the classic NHL logo and jersey combinations. It was fantastic. It was close to perfect. There was really no need to change much. In the mid-1990s they rebranded the team a bit and went with a new black, white, and red combination that was a clear unnecessary downgrade.
But that downgrade was nothing compared to what would happen during the 2006-07 season when they introduced this monstrosity that would eventually come to be known as the “Buffaslug.”
It remains one of the most hated logos in NHL history, with the designer once saying in an interview that the backlash “felt like crap.”
Mike Keenan squashes the Cool Cat Jersey
In the mid-1990s the NHL had some of its teams introduce new alternate uniforms that were supposed to dramatic changes from their usual look. The only one that wasn’t completely hated was the Pittsburgh Penguins alternate that would eventually become their regular road jersey for several seasons.
The others? All a nightmare. The Boston Bruins introduced some bright yellow monstrosity that had a weird floating bear head on the front. The Los Angeles Kings went with a futuristic look that featured a silver swirl cutting across the middle of the jersey with a king head in the top corner. The Ducks went with a green jersey that featured a cartoon-ish version of their Wild Wing mascot lunging through a sheet of ice holding a goalie stick (seriously, it was insane and could probably get its own entry here).
Then there was the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues, according to legend, were going to go with these until then-head coach Mike Keenan vetoed them, refusing to let his team take the ice wearing these.
If you ask me, the real blunder here was not the design itself, but rather not letting them actually be worn.
Truthfully, the All-Star uniforms this season should have all been different variations of these.
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