Mascots have been a staple in the hockey world for decades, and sometimes they find ways to steal the headlines.
Here’s a look at five memorable mascot moments in sports:
Craig MacTavish v Harvey The Hound
Craig MacTavish’s NHL career as a player had many memorable moments, including Stanley Cup with Edmonton and his legacy as the last player not to wear a helmet. But perhaps his most memorable moment came while coaching the Oilers.
During a 2003 Battle of Alberta game, Harvey the Hound, Flames’ longtime mascot, had harassed the Oilers bank. Fed up with Harvey’s antics, MacTavish took matters into his own hands. As Harvey leaned toward the Edmonton bench, MacTavish reached over and yanked the tongue out of his mouth before throwing it to the fans behind him.
The incident would be revisited years later, as the Oilers legend would give current team mascot Hunter the Lynx tips on how to fight his provincial rival in a 2017 Oilers TV video.
The unveiling of Gritty
Ask anyone – hockey fan or not – who the most popular hockey mascot is and Gritty takes the cake.
The furry orange mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers has become a viral sensation many times over. But when the orange creature was unveiled in 2018, the reception wasn’t exactly the warmest.
Gritty’s reveal at an event was met with people asking if it was a joke and why it needed a mascot in the first place. But in the three years since, Gritty has become one of the Flyers’ biggest symbols.
Shows like The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, robot chicken, and many others have shown the mascot that has gone beyond just being famous in the world of hockey.
Wild Wing catches fire
To entertain fans, mascots do a variety of things, from greeting kids in the stands to irritating opponents — and sometimes endangering themselves.
Before the 1995-96 home opener for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the team’s mascot, Wild Wing, had to jump over a flaming wall of fire during pre-game. The stunt performed flawlessly during practice, but when it came time for the real attempt, things didn’t go according to plan.
Wild Wing tripped over the trampoline that would get him over the flames and fell straight into the fire pit. Fortunately, the biggest duck in the arena would avoid serious injury.
SJ Sharkie is stuck in the air
Sharks don’t spend much time flying, and SJ Sharkie proved why. For a Sharks-Red Wings match on March 12, 1999, Sharkie would dangle above the ice.
After a few minutes, and a failed attempt to put mats on the ice for the mascot to fall on, the team staff would call off the plan and return Sharkie to the hall level in the rafters of the HP Pavillion.
Don Jackson pounding Sir Slapshot
Don Jackson’s incident with a mascot was far more violent than Craig MacTavish’s.
In 1995, Jackson, then the coach of the IHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, had had enough of Atlanta Knights mascot Sir Slapshot slamming the glass behind his team’s bench. Jackson climbed over the glass and hit the mascot several times in the stands. For his role in the incident, he was banned for 10 games and fined $1,000.
The former NHL enforcer’s reaction came in part as he was still recovering from a car accident that left him wheelchair-bound for some time and Sir Slapshot’s banging caused him to fall on one of his players during the match.
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