NHL team nicknames explained – NHL.com
Here are the origins of the other 30 NHL team names:
1. Anaheim Ducks
The Walt Disney Co. was awarded a Southern California-based expansion franchise on Dec. 10, 1992. Looking to capitalize on its hockey film “The Mighty Ducks” from earlier that year, Disney named the team the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
With purple, jade, silver and white as their original colors, the Mighty Ducks skated for 12 NHL seasons before Disney sold the team to Henry and Susan Samueli. On June 22, 2006, the Samuelis renamed the franchise the Anaheim Ducks and unveiled a new duck-foot logo and a color scheme of black, orange and metallic gold designed to “create an overall image that expressed excitement, speed and a competitive edge,” according to the Ducks website. Anaheim won the Stanley Cup for the first time the following season.
2. Arizona Coyotes
After the Winnipeg Jets announced on Dec. 19, 1995 that they were moving to Phoenix for the 1996-97 season, the new ownership group had a name-the-team contest that attracted more than 10,000 votes. Coyotes was announced as the winner on April 8, 1996, finishing ahead of the second-place Scorpions, according to The Associated Press.
The Coyotes moved from downtown Phoenix to Glendale, Ariz., during the 2003-04 season and changed their name to the Arizona Coyotes after they were sold in 2014 to “encourage more fans from all over the state, not just the valley, to embrace and support our team,” co-owner Anthony LeBlanc said.
3. Boston Bruins
Art Ross is credited with designing the modern hockey puck and changes to the net that lasted 40 years. He’s also responsible for the name of Boston’s franchise. After the NHL agreed to award Boston grocery tycoon Charles Adams a team, Adams hired Ross as general manager and asked him to come up with a nickname derived from an untamed, cunning animal. Ross chose bruin, an Old English term for a brown bear used in folk tales. The original brown and yellow colors matched those of Adams’ grocery stores.
4. Buffalo Sabres
Wanting something other than a variation on buffalo or bison, owners Seymour Knox III and Northrup Knox had a contest after being awarded a franchise that would take the ice in 1970. They wanted something unique and Sabres, suggested by four people from among 13,000 entries, was the winner; it beat out entries such as the Mugwumps, Buzzing Bees and Flying Zeppelins. The owners chose Sabres because “a sabre is renowned as a clean, sharp, decisive and penetrating weapon on offense, as well as a strong parrying weapon on defense.”
5. Calgary Flames
The Flames were born in Atlanta when the NHL granted an expansion franchise on Nov. 9, 1971. The franchise held a name-the-team contest, but according to Stephen Laroche’s book “Changing the Game: A History of NHL Expansion,” Flames was on 198 of 10,000 ballots. Tom Cousins, the franchise’s first owner, chose it to pay homage to the burning of Atlanta by Union soldiers during the Civil War.
The Flames reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs six times in their eight seasons in Atlanta before they were sold to a group headed by Nelson Skalbania on May 21, 1980, and the franchise moved to Calgary for the 1980-81 season. After holding a name-the-team contest, the ownership group voted to retain the Flames name and change the logo from a flaming “A” to a flaming “C.”
6. Carolina Hurricanes
The franchise, which began as the New England Whalers in the World Hockey Association in 1972, relocated to North Carolina in 1997 after entering the NHL as the Hartford Whalers in 1979. Hurricanes Bertha and Fran hit North Carolina in 1996, and the powerful storms were fresh on everyone’s mind when owner Peter Karmanos, Jr. chose the new nickname of Hurricanes prior to their debut in 1997-98.
7. Chicago Blackhawks
The Black Hawks were founded in 1926, along with the New York Rangers and Detroit Cougars (renamed the Red Wings in 1932). They were the last of the Original Six to enter the NHL.
The franchise’s nickname came from original owner Frederic McLaughlin’s 86th Infantry Division of the United States Army, which was known as the “Blackhawk Division.” McLaughlin, a Chicago native, had served as a member of the division’s 333rd Machine Gun Battalion during World War I. The team name officially became Blackhawks, one word, like the military division, in 1986.
8. Colorado Avalanche
The Quebec Nordiques were sold to the Communications Satellite Organization (COMSAT) and relocated to Denver on May 25, 1995. However, the franchise was unable to use the nickname of Denver’s previous NHL team, the Colorado Rockies (who moved to New Jersey to become the Devils in 1982). That name belonged to the Major League Baseball franchise that began play in Denver in 1993.
The new owners wanted to call the franchise the “Rocky Mountain Extreme,” according to the Denver Post, but scrapped the name after public backlash. After ownership created a list of names in an online forum, fans chose Avalanche over Black Bears, Rapids, Cougars, Outlaws, Renegades, Storm and Wranglers, according to the newspaper.
9. Columbus Blue Jackets
Picked out of 14,000 entries in a contest for the Columbus franchise, which entered the League in 2000-01, Blue Jackets won the vote over the second-place Justice. The name represents the blue coats worn by Union soldiers during the Civil War. Not only did Columbus produce most of those blue coats, but Ohio had more soldiers in the Union Army (nearly 320,000) than any other state. The name and logo are reflective of the area’s pride in its place in American history.
10. Dallas Stars
The franchise was known as the Minnesota North Stars before moving to Dallas for the 1993-94 season and dropping “North” from its name after moving to the Lone Star State.
11. Edmonton Oilers
When Bill Hunter was deciding on a name for his WHA team in 1972, he first called it the Alberta Oilers. Oilers was a nickname for his Junior A team in Edmonton, the Oil Kings; in 1973, Hunter changed the team’s name to the Edmonton Oilers. When the NHL absorbed four teams from the WHA in 1979, the Oilers retained their name.
Oil is one of Alberta’s most prevalent natural resources; the province has the world’s third-largest reserves behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, according to its website.
12. Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Cougars were founded in 1926 but changed their name to Falcons before settling on Red Wings in 1932. The team initially was part of the Western Canada Hockey League and was purchased by Jack Adams, who changed the name amid financial struggles. However, the name change to Falcons failed to end the franchise’s money troubles, and James Norris bought the team. Norris and Adams agreed the franchise would be known as the Red Wings, similar to one of Norris’ former teams, the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association’s Winged Wheelers, and also was a nod to Detroit’s auto industry.
13. Florida Panthers
Original owner Wayne Huizenga chose Panthers as the name for his expansion team, which began play in 1993-94, to bring attention to the plight of Florida’s state animal, which is critically endangered. Fewer than 100 panthers remain in the wild, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
14. Los Angeles Kings
Entrepreneur Jack Kent Cooke, who also owned the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and NFL’s Washington Redskins, was awarded an NHL expansion franchise for Los Angeles on Feb. 9, 1966. He asked for help in choosing a nickname for his new team; after receiving more than 7,000 potential names, Cooke chose Kings on May 27, 1966, because he was “looking for a name that would be symbolic of leadership in hockey,” according to the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.
15. Minnesota Wild
The North Stars departed for Dallas in 1993, but Minnesota was not out of the NHL for long. On June 25, 1997, Minnesota Hockey Ventures Group LLC was awarded an expansion franchise to begin play in 2000-01.
With their former team now known as the Dallas Stars, many fans wanted to resurrect the name North Stars, but a trademark issue with the NHL made that an impossibility. From more than 13,000 submissions in a contest, Wild was selected by management in recognition of the popularity of outdoor activity in Minnesota. The name trumped Blue Ox, Freeze, Northern Lights, Voyageurs and White Bears.
“We liked the marketing potential of Wild, so we went with it,” chief operating officer Matt Majka said in 2011.