Pittsburgh Penguins: The team would begin play in Civic Arena, which of course from all appearances looked like a gigantic igloo, and was after nicknamed “The Igloo”. So it was only natural to have “Penguins” (which live in Antarctica) play in “The Igloo” (a traditional inuit shelter from Northern Canada and Alaska).
New York Rangers: The Rangers became a team after the New York Amerks (defunct, obviously) popularity required a rival. The team was owned by George Lewis Rickard, whose nickname was “Tex”. So, the team took to the owner’s nickname and became “Tex’s Rangers”, then just “Rangers”.
New York Islanders: The team was going to be called the Long Island Ducks (a second Ducks team would be fantastic) after the EHL team, but it was changed to the Islanders, a nod to playing on Long Island.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils began as Scouts (KC), then were Rockies (Colorado), before setting in 1982 in the beautiful, scenic East Rutherford, then the picturesque Newark, New Jersey. The name came from the legend of a Jersey Devil, a mythological creature said to have haunted the woods of New Jersey.
Philadelphia Flyers: The team’s name began as a name-that-team contest. The owner told the fans the team would be orange because he considered that a “hot colour” (keep in mind, there was some bad acid going around in the late 60s- not implying, just saying) and that it was a tribute to his alma mater, the U of Texas. He also added black to the uniform to pay homage to Phili’s former team, the Quakers. After 11,000 ballots, owner Ed Snider chose his sister’s suggestion, the Flyers.
Boston Bruins: Owner Charlie Adams owned a supermarket chain called First National Stores, which had brown and yellow as its colours. He applied those same colours to the Bruins’ first uniforms. He eventually settled on Bruins, which is another name for a brown bear, as it fit very well with his already chosen colour scheme.
Buffalo Sabres: They needed a name different from Bisons, which was used by many teams in the area (though apparently it was fine to put prominently as a logo – go figure). The Knox family, the team’s owners, had a name-the-team contest, and the winner was Sabres, as it is symbolizes both the offensive and defensive aspects of the sport.
Toronto Maple Leafs: in 1927, Conn Smythe, a military man, prevented a team move to Philadelphia and re-named the Toronto team from the St. Pats to the Maple Leafs after the fighting regiment, Maple Leaf Regiment.
Ottawa Senators: Just like the Capitals, they play in their nation’s capital. Yawn. In all fairness the Senators precluded many others, and there are records of the original franchise using it as far back as 1901. Though the team was often referred to as Senators, it wasn’t officially adopted until about 30 years later.
Montreal Canadiens: As you can expect, Canadiens literally means “Canadians”, paying homage to the team’s homeland.
Washington Capitals: Okay, so yeah, the Capitals are so named because they play in Washington. That’s all I got for ya. Oh, the team began play in 1974.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Tampa Bay area is considered the “lightning capital of the world”, hence, Tampa Bay Lightning. Former president Phil Esposito has said he named the team following one particularly bad storm.
Florida Panthers: The team was named the panthers after the large cat that is considered an endangered species in the Everglades.
Carolina Hurricanes: Owner Peter Karmanos choose the name following the move from Hartford. And obviously Hurricanes are common weather events in the Carolinas.
Winnipeg Jets: The current Jets franchise in no way stems from the team that existed through the 70′s, 80′s and part of the 90′s (that one is the current Phoenix Coyotes). Instead, today’s Jets come from the relocated Atlanta Thrashers. The name, however, is obviously a tribute to the former Winnipeg team who took the name “Jets” from the Western Canadian Hockey League team. The WCHL team’s owner, Ben Hatskin, was a fan of the New York Jets, and ummm, ‘borrowed’ the name for his hockey club.
Detroit Red Wings: The Detroit team was first called the Cougars (after the defunct WCHL team of the same name), and was renamed the Falcons in 1930. It wasn’t until 1933 that the “Red Wings” was coined. The name actually comes from the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association which was nicknamed the “Winged Wheelers”, and owner James Norris, wanted to pay homage the Wheelers as he played for the club. The Winged Wheelers derived their name and logo from the sport the MAAA was originally founded on, cycling.
St. Louis Blues: The Blues were so named after a song by musician WC Handy called, “St. Louis Blues”. There is an obvious tie to popularity of rhythm and blues music in St. Louis, so the name was a natural.
Chicago Blackhawks: Until 1986, the Hawks were known as “Black Hawks”, but the two words were compounded to “Blackhawks”. Owner Frederic McLaughlin named the team Black Hawks out of respect for the 333rd Black Hawk Batallion for which he was a member.
Nashville Predators: How about this, Preds fans – you almost were the Nashville Devils, but for a failed attempt to land the New Jersey team. Anyhow, the name and logo stems from the remains of a smilodon (Sabre-toothed Tiger for those who aren’t into archaeology) that was found in the Nashville area. Interestingly, they had the logo before finding a name. After an exhaustive name-the-team contest, owner Craig Leipold added his own submission, “Predators”, which he immediately declared the winner.
Columbus Blue Jackets: The first team from Ohio since the long dead Cleveland Barons, Columbus began play in 2000 under the name Blue Jackets to recognize the familiar blue representative of the North during the American Civil War.
Calgary Flames: The current team was originally from Atlanta, which named its franchise the Flames after an American Civil War event where the city of Atlanta was almost burned to the ground – it was in flames.
Vancouver Canucks: The Vancouver Canucks we know are named after a team of the same name that competed in the WCHL in the 1940′s. The Canucks were named after “Johnny Canuck”, a cartoon character from the 1800′s. He was a Canadian lumberjack.
Edmonton Oilers: Simply, the name stems from the junior team, the Edmonton Oil Kings, which was often called “the Oilers” for shot. Also, Alberta produces a lot of oil.
Minnesota Wild: The Wild began play in 2000 as an expansion franchise, with no ties to former team, North Stars, which bolted South and lost the North. ”Wild” won out over other team name possibilities - Blue Ox (what the…?), Freeze, Northern Lights (for whatever reason, a lot of BC natives liked this one), Voyageurs (some confused this with “voyeurs”) and White Bears.
Colorado Avalanche: The Avs’ roots are in Quebec when the Nordiques began play in the WHA in 1972, then moved to the NHL not too long after. Much to the chagrin of the Nordiques’ faithful in Quebec City, the team went straight to the Cup after moving to the Rockies, which by the way is where they get their name from – the snow of the Rockies, obviously.
Los Angeles Kings: Owner Jack Kent Cooked also owned the Lakers, which were purple and gold, and so he wanted the Kings to follow suit. He wanted the team associated with royalty, hence the name and logo.
Phoenix Coyotes: The Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996 and have been the Coyotes since. The name was the result of a name-the-team contest, and the logo was made in the Kuchina (Native American) style.
San Jose Sharks: The San Jose Sharks might have been named the San Jose Blades, as the name-the-team contest resulted in the “Blades” as the winner. The owner, the Gund Family, went with the second place entry “Sharks” because Blades had a violent overtone – so, let’s go with Sharks, give it a terrifying array of teeth and make it break a stick in half sending debris everywhere, because that’s pretty tame.
Anaheim Ducks: The Disney Ducks began in 1993, and just as you remember, the team’s original name Mighty Ducks stems from the Disney movie of the same name.
Dallas Stars: The team was originally the Minnesota North Stars, which was relocated to Dallas. For obvious reasons they dropped the “North” from the name.