NHL Team Names

  • New York Rangers – An acceptable name for a team for the same basic reasons as discussed in the baseball dissection: Protection, strength, courage, etc. Why again with the red, white and blue I’m not sure, but colors aren’t the point here, the name is so it gets a pass.
  • Philadelphia Flyers – The name flyers, I presume, means “one who flies.” It conveys motion and speed which works for a hockey team.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins – This one is kind of questionable because I don’t know that penguins on ice are very graceful or fast… from what I’ve seen in nature shows they’re kind of clumsy and waddling. But penguins do slide on their bellies pretty smoothly and they swim like crazy, plus they have that ice connection that just works for a hockey team so I’ll let it (ahem) slide.
  • Boston Bruins – A bruin is basically another name for a brown bear so the team is essentially the Boston Bears. As has been established with the football team, bears are big, strong, imposing and at times quite cunning so it works, plus the alliteration angle is a nice touch.
  • Buffalo Sabres – I almost demoted this name because it annoys me that the team is the “Sabres” and yet they spend most of their time with logos and what not acting like they think their name is the “Buffaloes” since they’re always having buffalo imagery on their uniforms. One of these days maybe a team will play in Buffalo that just calls themselves the Buffalo Buffaloes and get it over with. Still, Sabres is a solid name and even manages to evoke some sense of hockey since the metal rail on a pair of ice skates is called the blade so I can’t fault them for stupid marketing. And even if it makes no sense, buffaloes are pretty decent mascots. (As a side note, this page suggests that the original founders of the team chose Sabres because they specifically wanted to avoid the common Buffalo/bison tie-in, so there’s some irony for you).
  • Carolina Hurricanes – Born from the relocated Hartford Whalers, they are located in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina which certainly sees hurricanes from time to time, so it has a local connection. Hurricanes are powerful storms that can bowl over anything in their path, so as a team name I’d say it’s pretty suitable for hockey or most any other sport I can think of.
  • Florida Panthers – As has been mentioned numerous times in these discussions, powerful carnivores of the animal kingdom are usually good team names. Panthers may not have any remote geographic link to Florida, but they certainly make for a quality team name.
  • Tampa Bay Lightning – According to the MSU page, Tampa Bay is the lightning capital of the world. Wikipedia disputes this and cites this article as evidence that Singapore actually has the most occurrences of lighting strikes per year. Wikipedia does however mention this tidbit: “The United States is home to ‘Lightning Alley,’ a group of states in the American Southeast that collectively see more lightning strikes per year than any other place in the US. The most notable state in Lightning Alley is Florida.” So let’s assume the name is locally appropriate, Lightning in an of itself isn’t such a bad name for a team, being intense, powerful and striking suddenly, without warning. That works for a hockey team so it’s a solid name all around.
  • Nashville Predators – Even if you dispense with the specifics, the general term for all creatures on top of their section of the food chain works quite well as a team name, especially in the NHL.
  • Colorado Avalanche – Originally the Quebec Nordiques (I won’t even bother with that one), they relocated to Denver and named themselves the Avalanche. While the MLB team in the same area went with “Rockies” to questionable effect, Avalanche is a nearly perfect name for an ice hockey team. Not only is it somewhat locally specific (again with the mountains, although I can’t find any specific data about how many avalanches really occur in Colorado on average) but it has the ice connection and an avalanche is certainly an intimidating, powerful force of nature that can absolutely bury you if you get in its path. Sounds fitting to me, even if the team doesn’t always live up to the name.
  • Dallas Stars – Considering that the original team name was the Minnesota North Stars and that Texas is the Lone Star State, it’s one of the best relocation name adjustments I can think of. Not only that but a star, in sports, is generally a predominant or exceptionally talented player so it certainly works to classify the whole team that way right in the name.
  • Los Angeles Kings – Unlike the MLB’s Royals, the LA team makes this work by being specific enough with their royalty to give the impression of power, control and to a certain extent victory. It’s not the best name in this section, but it works well enough.
  • Phoenix Coyotes – Locally specific (Arizona is commonly associated with desert areas and coyotes are likewise associated with the desert even though their habitats are generally much more varied) and a predatory animal at least when in the wild (coyotes are actually very adaptable omnivores who are usually scavengers in urban areas), despite some misconceptions about the animal, the general gist is on track and it works passably.
  • San Jose Sharks – The ice connection is tenuous at best (water/ice) so let’s ignore that, but there are plenty of sharks in the Pacific Ocean and sharks themselves are almost exclusively thought of as sly, dangerous, merciless predators. Local connection and effective imagery equals good name.

Marginal Names

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