Ninh's blog

Origins of 30 NHL Team Names

Wednesday December 12, 2007 @ 07:25 AM EST

Did you ever wonder why your favourite NHL team took its name? Why Detroit are the ‘Red Wings’, Florida are the ‘Panthers’. And who the hell came up with ‘Minnesota Wild’?

Spare me a few of your minutes of your life and all will be revealed!

(Note: This is not one of my ‘laugh-a-minute’ blogs. I have been told off for writing ‘too much humour’, so if you wanted a cheap giggle, visit one of my other blogs. This one is entirely educational),

Anaheim Ducks – Named after a Disney Film
..- The club was founded in 1993 by The Walt Disney Company as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, a name based on the Disney film: “The Mighty Ducks”.
..- Disney sold the franchise in 2005 to Henry and Susan Samueli, who changed the name of the team to “Anaheim Ducks” prior to the 2006-07 season.

Atlanta Thrashers – Named after a state bird
..- The nickname “Thrashers”, after Georgia’s state bird, the brown thrasher, was selected from a fan poll.
..- “Thrashers” had actually been runner-up to “Flames” for Atlanta’s first NHL team (the old Atlanta Flames team departed for Calgary in 1980 and became the Calgary Flames).

Boston Bruins – Named after a grocery stores colour scheme
..- Jack Adams directed Art Ross to come up with a nickname that would portray an untamed animal displaying speed, agility, and cunning but would also incorporate the ‘brown and gold’ colour scheme of Adams’ grocery chain: First National Stores.
..- Art Ross came up with “Bruins,” after the brown bear. And it also began with ‘B’.

Buffalo Sabres – Named through a fan contest
..- The team’s name, selected through a fan contest, was chosen because it was known as a weapon carried by leaders, and it is also swift and strong on offense as well as defense.

Calgary Flames – Named after an historical event
..- The old Atlanta Flames team relocated to Calgary in 1980.
..- The team’s first name originated from the burning of Atlanta led by U.S. Army general William Sherman during the American Civil War. The Flames are the only relocated team in the league to keep their former alias.

Carolina Hurricanes – Named out of necessity rather than choice
..- Peter Karmanos, the owner of the Hartford Whalers announced that the team would move to the new Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh.
..- Due to the relatively short time frame for the move, Karmanos himself thought of and decided upon the new name for the club: ‘Hurricanes’, rather than holding a contest.

Chicago Blackhawks – Named from a Gun Battalion derived from a Native American Chief
..- The Blackhawks were founded by coffee tycoon Frederic McLaughlin.
..- McLaughlin had been a commander with the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion during World War I. This Division was nicknamed the “Blackhawk Division”, after a Native American of the Sauk nation, Chief Black Hawk, who was a prominent figure in the history of Illinois.

Colorado Avalanche – Named by the Organisation
..- The COMSAT Entertainment Group, announced an agreement to purchase the Quebec Nordiques and relocate them to Denver.
..- The franchise was presented as the ‘Colorado Avalanche’ by the organisation, naming it after the state (as opposed to the city of Denver). The organisers chose the name ‘Avalanche’ which symbolises raw power, dynamic force and sheer strength. (Thank you Wendy!)

Columbus Blue Jackets – Named after soldiers and/or a war chief
..- Team officials announce that the name of the franchise will be the Blue Jackets, celebrating patriotism, pride and the rich Civil War history in the state of Ohio and, city of Columbus.
..- The actual term ‘Blue Jackets’ refers to the nickname for the soldiers themselves, or is the nickname of a war chief: Weyapiersenwah who was known colloquially as ‘Blue Jacket’.

Dallas Stars – Name derived from predecessor
.. – The Minnesota North Stars were sold to a group of investors that were originally looking to place a team in San Jose to become the San Jose Stars.
..- One of the group’s members, Norman Green, would eventually gain control of the team. In 1993, Green obtained permission to move the team to Dallas, Texas, where they were renamed specifically, the ‘Stars’. They could not use ‘North’ in the title due to Dallas’ proximity in the south.

Detroit Red Wings – Named after a team in Montréal
..- James Norris’ was to choose a new name for the Detroit Falcons. Norris had once played for Montreal HC who were nicknamed the “Winged Wheelers”.
..- Because of the team’s location in Detroit, the Motor City, Norris transformed the club’s logo into the first version of the Red Wings logo as it is known today. And the team has been known as the ‘Red Wings’ ever since.

Edmonton Oilers – Named after a nickname for a previously owned team
..- It was Bill Hunter that originally chose the name “Oilers” for the WHA franchise, a name that had previously been used as a nickname for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 1950s and 1960s.

Florida Panthers – Named after local animal species
..- The name is derived from the rare species of Panther: “Puma concolor coryi”. Only 100 are left in the wild and the majority of them can be found residing in Florida.

Los Angeles Kings – Named after a defunct team
..- Founded on February 9, 1966, when Jack Kent Cooke was awarded an expansion franchise in Los Angeles.
..- The team was named to honour the former Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL) team: Los Angeles Monarchs of the 1930s.

Minnesota Wild – Named by the organisation
..- The six finalist team names for the new Minnesota franchise were: Minnesota Blue Ox, Minnesota Freeze, Minnesota Northern Lights, Minnesota Voyageurs, Minnesota White Bears and Minnesota Wild.
..- Out of the 6 names, Minnesota Wild was chosen. (Note: I personally think that the ‘Wild’ is the worst hockey team name in the NHL. How about the Minnesota Moose? Minnesota Militants? Even Minnesota Mounties?!)

Montreal Canadiéns – Named after French Canadians … obviously
..- The team originally adopted the name: “Club Athlétique Canadién” – a name to signify that this was a pro-francophone team. The logo was an ‘A’ inside a ‘C’.
..- The next year, the Canadiéns changed their corporate name to the present: “Club de Hockey Canadién”, and adopted the first version of their current logo (which is a ‘H’ inside of a ‘C’)

Nashville Predators – Named after a fossil
..- The team was named after the fossil skull of a saber-toothed cat—a species extinct for at least 10,000 years that was found in August 1971, in a cave during the excavation for the AmSouth Center in downtown Nashville.
..- The fossil is only the fifth of its kind found in North America.

New Jersey Devils – Named after an urban legend
..- The team was renamed the New Jersey Devils on June 30, 1982 (previously they were the Colorado Rockies).
..- Over 10,000 people voted in a contest held by local newspapers to select the name, which is influenced by the legend of the Jersey Devil, an ominous demonic creature supposedly inhabiting the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.

New York Islanders – Named after geography
..- The original name for the 2nd New York team was widely expected to be the “Long Island Ducks”.
..- The more geographically expansive “New York Islanders” was used instead due to the fact that they represent New York (city and state), with their nickname and logo denoting their current arena location and fan geography.

New York Rangers – Named after a newspaper pun
..- President Tex Rickard was granted a franchise, which he originally planned to name the New York Giants.
..- However, the New York press soon nicknamed his team “Tex’s Rangers”, and the new name stuck. They have been called the ‘Rangers’ ever since.

Ottawa Senators – Named after their former predecessor
..- Ottawa had been the home of the original Ottawa Senators, an NHL franchise that had relocated to St. Louis, Missouri (and folded after a year) in the 1930s despite a championship record.
..- Bruce Firestone is largely credited for ‘bringing back the Senators’ to Ottawa in 1991.

Philadelphia Flyers – Named after Philadelphia
..- Flyers was the name chosen for the new franchise as it conveyed the motion and excitement that was to be consistent with both hockey in general, as well as the city of Philadelphia itself.

Phoenix Coyotes – Named from a fan contest
..- The team began play as the Winnipeg Jets, but moved to Phoenix in 1996.
..- The newly purchased franchise officially unveiled its logo and name in a press conference after a successful name-the-team contest. Management chose the name “Phoenix Coyotes” for the franchise.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Named after an arena
..- The Penguins name was inspired by the fact that the team was going to play in an “Igloo”, the nickname of the Pittsburgh Civic Center.
..- A logo was chosen, that had a penguin in front of a triangle, which is thought to be in tribute to the “Golden Triangle” in Pittsburgh.

San Jose Sharks – Named after the ‘Red Triangle’
..- Over 5000 potential names were submitted by mail for the new team. The first-place finisher was “Blades,” the owners of the new franchise were concerned about the name’s negative connotations (weapons, etc) and went with the runner-up name: “Sharks.”
..- Inspired by the area of water near the Bay Area, known as the “red triangle” because of its huge shark population.

St. Louis Blues – Named after a song
..- The team is named after the famous W. C. Handy song “St. Louis Blues”.
..- That’s it. It’s that simple!

Tampa Bay Lightning – Named after Tampa’s typical weather
..- The organisation named the team the ‘Lightning’ due to the fact that Tampa suffers regularly from Tropical Storms.
..- The term ‘Lightning’ also refers to the swift speed and deadly power of the former NHL players that owned the new franchise (Phil and Tony Esposito).

Toronto Maple Leafs – Named after a Regiment in the Canadian Army
..- After taking control of the franchise in 1927, Conn Smythe immediately renamed the team the Maple Leafs. The name was chosen in honour of the Maple Leaf Regiment from World War I.
..- The colours were changed from ‘Green and Brown’ to ‘Blue and White’. Blue has been Toronto’s principal sporting colour since the Argonauts adopted Oxford and Cambridge Blue in 1872.
..- Every major Toronto sports team (with the exception of the Raptors and FC) wears a form of Oxford Blue or Cambridge Blue when competing in their respective sports.

Vancouver Canucks – Named after a cartoon
..- The team is named after “Johnny Canuck” who was a Canadian cartoon superhero who was created as a political cartoon in 1869 and was later re-invented, first in 1942, then in 1975.
..- In 1965, Fred Hume announced that the city of Vancouver would apply for an NHL Franchise. After a successful campaign, the Vancouver team joined the NHL as the ‘Canucks’.

Washington Capitals – Named after an arena
..- The team was owned by Abe Pollin who was also owner of the NBA’s Washington Bullets.
..- Pollin had built the Capital Centre to house both the Bullets and the ‘Capitals’.

There you go people – that is your education for today. Hopefully you all learned something (and didn’t fall asleep reading it) and if I got any of those wrong, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Comments and suggestions please!


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15 Comments - 15 Replies

  • 6x24j2_thumb
    Jan 20 2008 13:39

    I love your blog for info. Keep it coming!

    reply [view replies(0)]
  • 9kkh93_thumb
    Dec 19 2007 20:08

    the ottawa franchise that existed from 1884-1934 officially they were known as the Ottawa Hockey Club(merchandising wasn’t big way back in 1884), nicknames were Capitals, Generals In the 1890’s, and at the turn of the century The ottawa silver seven, 1902-1907, It was then that the got the name, senators. Loved your blog I just felt the sens had a little more to say then it’s what they were called 60 years ago. definatly a good read

    reply [view replies(2)]
  • lj26db_thumb
    Dec 19 2007 14:02

    The leafs used to be knows as the st.pats when the wore the green.

    reply [view replies(1)]
  • se64wg_thumb
    Dec 18 2007 23:08

    You must have a lot of time on your hands…good work.

    reply [view replies(1)]
  • q4qz94_thumb
    Dec 15 2007 07:36

    I didn’t know about the canucks! Tank you wink.png

    reply [view replies(1)]
  • 0ze7b6_thumb
    Dec 14 2007 18:45
    Stay funny!

    Whoever told you that you use “too much humor” is probably one of those people who finds nothing in life funny, and therefore thinks that no one else should either.

    I do like the educational posts as well though. Although, sadly, the Blackhawks name is no surprise. As you go out farther west in Illinois, everything is Blackhawk-this, Blackhawk-that. Too bad most people in this state couldn’t care less about the Chicago Blackhawks!

    Finally, I heard once that Canuck is a derogatory term for French Canadians, which I find hilarious. Now I want a team called the Dagos! (And I can say that because I’m Italian.)

    reply [view replies(1)]
  • 0dqnyk_thumb
    Dec 14 2007 11:27
    That was fun & educational

    Wow, two for one. Loved the trivia about the Leafs colours – who knew? Well, apart from you, obviously. Now I need a trivia contest. Cheers

    reply [view replies(1)]
  • a9wzoh_thumb
    Dec 13 2007 18:21

    Great blog, I kind of miss the humour though smile.png

    reply [view replies(1)]
  • nopic
    Dec 13 2007 12:48
    MN Wild

    For your information, Wild is Refering to how we Minesotans feel about Our outdoors. have you ever been to Northern Minnesota? Then you wouldn’t understand. We value Our ‘outdoors’. The name has meaning to the State. Just like any other sports franchise. Except for the Dallas Stars. They Were Minnesotas Team. Damn Norm Green.
    As for your proposed Names if it were not the wild, the Moose were a professional hockey team, albeit not very long.
    The Mounties? are you F*ing kidding me?
    And the Millitants? maybe if we were located on the east coast.
    Sorry man, worst team name in the league by far is the a thrasher…What in the world is a thrasher? I know its a bird, but are you kidding me?

    reply [view replies(1)]
  • xe0i9n_thumb
    Dec 13 2007 02:46

    awesome blog

    reply [view replies(1)]