NHL Team Name Origins: General view of the T-Mobile Arena adjacent to the Las Vegas strip. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It’s All In The Name
The Vegas Golden Knights have finally announced their name as the newest NHL franchise. Has Vegas’ new team name sparked your curiosity regarding the origins of other team names?
The name ‘Golden Knights’ was in homage to team owner Bill Foley’s military history. Foley has stated that knights are the symbol of ‘warrior class’ and that knights never give up and always stick together.
The term ‘Knights’ was a staple in Vegas’ nickname for Foley, who used this to brand Vegas with an original team name: the Vegas Golden Knights.
Here, we’ll go over the origin story the NHL team names in the Western Conference. Every fan-vote and every silly story that impacted a team name will be covered here.
NHL Team Name Origins: Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) and the Ducks celebrate the 4-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
From The Big Screen To The Ice Rink
The Anaheim Ducks have the most famous name of all NHL team names. The Ducks joined the NHL in 1993 with a slightly different name, the Mighty Ducks.
The Mighty Ducks comes from the 1992 Disney movie of the same name. The movie, about a lawyer who gets himself into trouble and has to coach a kids hockey team, was such a hit that it made way for a real team.
The Anaheim Mighty Ducks became the Anaheim Ducks in 2005 after Disney sold the team. Regardless of the slight name change, Anaheim made a big impression with the famous namesake.
NHL Team Name Origins: Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal (11) celebrates with left wing Anthony Duclair (10), defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) and center Max Domi (16) after scoring a goal in the third period against the Dallas Stars at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Turn To The Reliable Fan-Vote
The original Winnipeg Jets relocated in 1996 and found a new home in Arizona. Management immediately turned to a name-the-team contest to give the new franchise the perfect name.
The first place name was the Coyotes, which narrowly beat out “Scorpions.” The coyote is Arizona’s most feared predator, which made it the perfect name for a tough new team.
Though originally the Phoenix Coyotes, the team formally became the Arizona Coyotes at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
The Arizona Coyotes was a fitting name for the team, especially after changing the team’s geographical name. The right logo and the perfect color scheme gave Arizona just the right brand that their state would come to love.
NHL Team Name Origins: Calgary Flames left wing Jiri Hudler (24) celebrates his goal with teammates against the New York Islanders during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
The Flames originated in Atlanta in 1972. The team relocated in 1980 and moved to its new home in Calgary. Despite the location change, the team decided to keep the original name, the Flames.
The name traces back to the burning of Atlanta by General William T. Sherman during the Civil War. “Flames” seemed fitting for the Atlanta-based team and after the relocation, it was a good homage to the team’s roots.
Alternatively, the Calgary Flames also received a name that was as exciting as a hockey game could be, which perfectly fits the team’s pace.
NHL Team Name Origins: Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) celebrates his goal with teammates on the bench in the first period against the Winnipeg Jets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Colorado’s original team, the Colorado Rockies, relocated to New Jersey in 1982. Therefore, Colorado lost the name ‘Rockies’ and subsequently became the New Jersey Devils.
When Colorado returned to the NHL, the name ‘Rockies’ was already taken by a Denver baseball team before the Quebec Nordiques could make it to their new home. In search of a new team name, the franchise management began going through their best ideas.
Management was fond of the name “Extreme” but fans gave negative feedback. From there, the franchise reviewed all possible names like Black Bears, Outlaws, Wranglers, and Cougars.
Avalanche came out on top in the end. A member of the marketing team who named the franchise later defended the name saying that hockey is a “rough and tough” sport and that many other team names “kill people too.” in face of criticism.
Overall, the name was well received. Despite the deadly nature of an avalanche, it makes the perfect name for a hockey team that comes in all at once to win.
NHL Team Name Origins: Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) celebrates his gaol against Calgary Flames with his teammates during the third period at the United Center. The Hawks won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
The Original Six team joined the NHL in 1926. Owner Frederic McLaughlin named the Chicago franchise in honor of something that was close to his heart and his roots.
McLaughlin named the team after the 86th Infantry Division he served during World War I, the “Black Hawk Division”. The division itself was named after Chief Black Hawk of the Sauk American Tribe who fought the Illinois militia in 1832.
Chicago would later change its name to Blackhawks in 1986, giving us the name we all know and love.
NHL Team Name Origins: Dallas Stars players celebrate after a win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. The Stars won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The Lone Star State
The Minnesota North Stars found themselves with a new home in 1993. The Minnesota team moved down South to Dallas for a new era.
Minnesota, in need of a new name, did not feel the need for change apparently. While Minnesota put the team in the perfect place for the “North Stars,” the team found themselves in another star state: the Lone Star State.
Instead of changing the team name too much, the name was changed to the Dallas Stars. While “Lone Stars” could have been an easy choice, the franchise felt no need to tack on the extra word and though just “Stars” was perfect.
Now, the Dallas Stars fit Texas so perfectly its like they’ve been there all along.
NHL Team Name Origins: The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a third period goal by forward Connor McDavid (97) against the St. Louis Blues at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
The Oil Capital
The Edmonton franchise received its name in 1972 in the World Hockey Association. Edmonton, the Capital of Alberta, is also the oil capital of Canada. The oil-themed name made for a perfect fit.
This wasn’t the first time that Bill Hunter, original franchise owner, used an oil-themed name. In the 50s and 60s, Hunter owned a junior club team called the Oil Kings. He decided to continue the trend when he founded the team in 1972.
When the Edmonton Oilers joined the NHL in 1979, the team decided to retain the same name. Thus, the Oilers kept their original franchise name that fans still love.
NHL Team Name Origins: Los Angeles Kings left wing Dwight King (74) and center Jeff Carter (77) celebrate the goal scored by defenseman Alec Martinez (27) against the Colorado Avalanche during the second period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Kings joined the NHL in 1967. Original Owner Jack Kent Cooke turned to a fan-vote for ideas for the team’s new name.
After receiving a variety of good team name ideas, Cooke decided on “Kings” because he liked the sense of royalty that came with the name. The LA Kings turned out to be the perfect name for the up-and-coming California team.
Cooke, who also owned the Los Angeles Lakers at the time, gave the Kings the same colors as his other team. From there, the Kings were all set to bring hockey to LA and become the team we have all come to know.
NHL Team Name Origins: Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (11) celebrates a goal scored by forward Eric Staal (12) during the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The Wild, Wild, Minnesota
The Minnesota franchise joined the NHL in 1998 and was in search of the perfect name to suit the new team. Management came across a few name options including, Blue Ox, Northern Lights, White Bears and Freeze.
Despite the options, the franchise went with their best, and favorite, option: The Wild. Wild turned out to be the perfect name for the team as it perfectly described the nature found in Minnesota and the mentality of the new team.
The name was also chosen in tribute to the state’s wildlife and outdoors nature. Minnesota brought a new wild team into the NHL and quickly became a classic.
The Minnesota Wild was the perfect team for the hockey state and later received the perfect colors and jerseys to make their franchise great.
NHL Team Name Origins: Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) celebrates after a win against the Dallas Stars at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The Saber-Tooth Below
The Nashville Predators joined the NHL in 1997 but their namesake traces back much earlier than that. The idea for the name goes all the way back to Nashville in 1971.
In 1971, there was excavation began in downtown Nashville. While construction workers were working the area they drilled through 20-feet of solid rock before finding a muddy patch. The workers continued digging and came across a cave. Within the cave, the workers found a nine-inch fang and a foreleg of a saber-toothed tiger which had been extinct for over 10,000 years.
After scientists tested the remains, the concluded that the tiger was probably one of the last of its kind during the last glacial period and that the cave was a saber-toothed tiger den. This discovery was the fifth of its kind in North America and the cave was later preserved as a historical site.
When the Nashville franchise turned to fan votes for a team name, the city of Nashville wanted to rejoice in what made their city unlike any other in the continent. Thus, the Nashville Predators were born.
Predators was the perfect name for the team that honored the city and still made for a confident and dominating name in the rink.
Oct 12, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns (88) celebrates scoring a goal against the Los Angeles Kings in the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Sharks won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Sharks Circle San Jose
The San Jose franchise joined the NHL in 1991. San Jose turned to a fan-vote to name the new California-based franchise.
The name-the-team contest produced several front-runners for the team name including, Blades, Screaming Squids, Fog and Rubber Puckies. The name “Blades” actually came in first place but the gang and violent implications of the name made the franchise choose Sharks instead.
Coincidentally, once the name was decided seven different shark species found home in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.
Sharks was the perfect name for the California city. Not only did the name make sense given the team’s location but it made for the perfect logo for the ferocious new team.
NHL Team Name Origins: St. Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz (17) is congratulated by defenseman Petteri Lindbohm (48) center Kyle Brodziak (28) and right wing Ryan Reaves (75) after scoring his second goal of the game against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Inspiration From The Radio
The St. Louis Blues joined the NHL in 1967. The new Missouri franchise was in need of the perfect name to suit their new team.
While a few ideas were tossed around, original owner Sid Saloman Jr. turned to the radio to name his new team. Saloman named the team after the song “St. Louis Blues” by W.C Handy. The unique name was the perfect name (and color) pairing for the music city.
The St. Louis Blues joined the league with their new name and their extremely fitting blue logo and colors. Sometimes turning to an unlikely source can find the perfect answer.
The Blues’ team name is still one of the most unusual since it deviates from a traditional team name and logo and has become a beloved team for the city.
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NHL Team Name Origins: Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin (22) celebrates his goal against Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner (40) during the third period at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Johnny Canuck’s Legacy
The Vancouver Canucks joined the NHL in 1970 but the team’s namesake goes back much further than that.
The namesake traces back to 1869 when Johnny Canuck emerged as a Canadian political cartoon. During World War II, Johnny Canuck was remade as a comic book character who fought Adolf Hitler and other villains.
Canuck is also slang for a Canadian, similar to the term “Yankee.” The Vancouver franchise thought that Canuck would be the perfect name for the team and it was an obvious choice for the franchise.
Now, Johnny Canuck’s legacy lives on through the Vancouver Canucks.
Nov 3, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry (17) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
The Return of the Jets
The original Winnipeg Jets joined the NHL in 1971 but eventually relocated to Arizona. When the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg in 2011, the franchise knew exactly what name the team would have.
After the Thrashers relocated in 2011, the new Winnipeg team was renamed after Winnipeg’s former team and brought back all the glory that came with it. The return of the Winnipeg Jets was the perfect move after bringing hockey back to the city.
The Winnipeg Jets were then reborn and have been loved ever since.