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Off-Topic: What’s In A Name - East

What’s in a name? Ever thought a team’s name was really odd, or even really rubbish?

Here listed for your reading and ridicule are the reasons why the teams of the NHL are known by their names.

New Jersey DEVILS: The Jersey Devil, according to Wikipedia, “is a legendary creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey. The creature is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many variations”, including an eerily similar description of Jacques Lemaire. It has almost ‘Bigfoot’ type status in the Jersey area.

New York ISLANDERS: The team is based in Long Island, NY, and was formed when a collection of persistent pests and criminals of New York were herded out onto an island as punishment for their heinous crimes. Only one of these men still lives, at over 350 years old, immortal, and resistant to the aging process, Trevor Gillies cannot be harmed by conventional weapons.

New York RANGERS: The original team was known Tex’s Rangers, and had the logo of a cowboy on a horse waving a hockey stick in the air. The owner of the team was a man named Tex Rickard, and the team was locally known as Tex’s Rangers due to the owner and logo combination. The name was adopted by the club officially and became the New York Rangers in the mid 1920’s. Sean Avery has since paid homage to the original logo by standing in front of goalies, and waving his hockey stick in the air.

Philadelphia FLYERS: Vice-President of the Philadelphia Eagles basketball team, Ed Snider noticed that hockey was expanding in 1964, and put together his proposal for a team. The name was chosen by a ‘name-the-team’ competition, to drum up interest in the new franchise. Apparently the Philadelphia Cheese Spread’s weren’t really agreed upon and it was decided to keep the whole Eagle/Flyer theme. Fought off a late challenge from the Philadelphia Goons Who Will Smash Your Face In As Soon As They Cans.

Pittsburgh PENGUINS: Originally playing in the Pittsburgh Civic Arena (nicknamed the ‘Igloo’), the Penguins were founded in an expansion that included the upgrading of the Pittsburgh Hornets. The Penguins nickname was chosen on account of their arena nicknamed, and that original president Jack McGregor had an image of a large penguin, waddling about on ice skates and generally making a nuisance of himself, and it wouldn’t go away. McGregor’s dream was realised when the Pittsburgh signed Matt Cooke from Washington.

Boston BRUINS: When looking for a team name that would portray speed, agility and cunning, Boston named it’s team the Bruins after the old English word for bear, a huge animal that lumbers around the woods and has an unnatural attraction for honey. To continue this ideal of attitudes, new players were regularly subjected to vigorous tryout criteria, including skating as quickly as you could from one goal to the next, dodging pucks thrown at them from the stands, whilst answering difficult arithmetic questions every time they crossed the centre line.

Buffalo SABRES: Another team subjected to a ‘name-the-team’ competition, Buffalo owners the Knox family liked the idea of a Sabre being a weapon carried by a leader. Many other local sports teams were named the Buffalo Bison, leaving the only other ‘name-the-team’ entry being the Buffalo Hot Wings. Luckily, the Knox family went with the Sabres, as the copyrights on the other name would have caused all sorts of problems in later years.

Montreal CANADIENS: Formed by French Canadian owners, for French Canadian communities, with players who were strictly French Canadians, the name for Montreal’s team comes as an identifier that the team was all Canadian…But you had to speak French. The team still has the nickname Les Habs, coming from Les Habitants, the name given to original settlers in the Montreal region, with this name often being used by Canadian fans of the team. Settlers of course, who came from France.

Ottawa SENATORS: Although previously known as the Ottawa Generals, and the Ottawa Capitals, the Senators is just another in the line of authorative names used by the Ottawa team. Unfortunately, in these modern times, the next authoritive names to be used are the Ottawa Bosses Secretaries, and then the Ottawa Hall Monitors.

Toronto MAPLE LEAFS: Despite the constant grammatical question of the plural of ‘leaf’, the team is named after a WWI regiment which had a Maple Leaf insignia. Therefore the word ‘leaf’ is the proper noun, and should not be altered to create the plural. Considering this was Conn Smythe’s regiment, and he’d served wearing the badge on his uniform, that people would take his word for it, but no. It appears that even in 1917, there were grammar nazis.

Atlanta THRASHERS: Named after the Brown Thrasher, Georgia’s state bird. Strangely, the Brown Thrasher is described as “bright reddish-brown above with thin, dark streaks on its buffy underparts”. Those streaks on the underparts don’t sound very attractive, but then, if you had to go toe-to-toe with Evander Kane, there’s likely to be more than just streaks in your underparts.

Carolina HURRICANES: So called after the adverse weather conditions in that part of the USA, the Hurricanes picked an often occurring natural disaster. Other weather conditions suggested were turned down, as the Carolina A Bit Rainys, Carolina Holy Crap It’s Hot In Heres, Carolina Brass Monkeys and the Carolina Bad Winds were all rejected. The latter, of course, being rejected on grounds of hilarity.

Florida PANTHERS: The team were named after the endangered species of cougar that lives in the swamps of Florida. The big cat is often sighted causing panic and alarm with members of the public. Since the cat is endangered, it is shooed back into the swamp as soon as possible, as lot like Stephen Weiss. The Florida Panthers management tried to shoo Weiss away at first, until several local children jumped up and down shouting “Can we keep him, can we keep him pleeeeeeeeeeeease?”. Eventually the organisation took Weiss on with a contract, just to shut the kids up, on the grounds that if his species reach the verge of extinction, he will return to the wild.

Tampa Bay LIGHTNING: Another team named after weather conditions, the Lightning are known as “Lightning Capital of North America”…apparently. This of course, then gives way to a huge amount of newspaper and media puns regarding lightning, bolts, shocks, strikes and a whole wealth of possibilities regarding electricity. It is suspected that founding owner Phil Esposito just knew the kind of crap headlines that journalists would like and therefore the whole “Lightning Capital of North America” was a title made up for this very purpose

Washington CAPITALS: Since being based in the capital city of the USA, Washington couldn’t really choose another name for their team, and therefore they were pretty much stuck with it. Even other major sports teams have, or have had, the same fate (NBA team Washington Wizards were previously Washington Bullets, and the Capital Bullets before then, MLB team the Washington Nationals and MLS team D.C. United). Unfortunately, when the Capitals are playing poorly, the opposition fans will regularly refer to them as the Crapitals, something which the original naming committee obviously overlooked. Luckily, this isn’t often the case with Washington’s NHL team…unless Semyon Varlamov happens to be in goal.

Next time, the WESTERN CONFERENCE.

I’m sure you all can’t wait!

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