Welcome to Center Ice Chat’s Top 5, an irregular series ranking performances this season. In this post, we rank not performance of hockey, but the team’s culture. More specifically, mascots. We take a look at the Top 5 mascots out and about in the NHL. The rankings are obscure and represent the entertainment value and history of each mascot.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs are obviously on a strong, strong start to the season. Plagued by goalie problems, Toronto has found a way to win the games against the weaker teams. But against the dominant teams, there have been break downs.
The Leafs are the top of seven Canadian teams and are on a drought since 1967 from claiming the Stanley Cup. Additionally, a Leafs’ championship would result a third consecutive year for an Original Six team.
4. Dallas Stars
Brad Richards is gone. The franchise was reportedly in economic hardships this summer. And the holes left in the off season were suppose to be too much for any stellar goalie to handle, let alone Kari Lehtonen.
It’s been amazing to watch the Stars rattle around with the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, all teams which were suppose to exceed the Stars.
The Stars last won the Cup in1999 with that controversial goal of Brett Hull’s against the Buffalo Sabres. It’s a new crew, and a young crew. Give them some credit this year.
3. Buffalo Sabres
Money talks. Most analysts weren’t buying, however, that the new ownership in Buffalo were spending in all the right places.
They were wrong, so far. They’re making a run in the Eastern Conference, and getting great productivity out of Luke Adam and Drew Stafford.
The 1999 loss to the Stars warrants some love, maybe, but they have yet to win a Cup in their 41 years of existence. The loss in 1975 to the Flyers in the Finals hurt pretty bad, too.
2. Minnesota Wild
Those head-scrather of trades with the San Jose Sharks. The rookie bench boss. The reasons for skepticism.
But alas, here are the Minnesota Wild taking charge of their own destiny 15 games into the season. They’re behind who? The Edmonton Oilers?
Yes, they are. So, anything is possible. The stellar goaltending for the Wild. The superb performance from coach Mike Yeo. It’s all happening. The 10-year-old franchise that went on to replace the Minnesota North Stars is due. And this season is a good one to give the State of Hockey what they want.
1. Edmonton Oilers
Ah, the Wayne Gretzky era. The time when hockey was vibrant in Edmonton and throughout Alberta, and beyond. That Gretzky magic spilled over for a few more years after he was traded to the Los Angeles Kinds, including a 1989-90 Stanley Cup.
That magic was commanded with the wand, or stick, of Mark Messier, who credited “The Great One” for that victory even two years after “the deal.”
But for years we’ve been waiting on the Edmonton Oilers to do what the Chicago Blackhawks did years ago into the 2010 Stanley Cup: Build up.
They’re doing it, and they’re doing it some young talent and the second oldest NHL goalie in Nikolai Khabibulin.
But it’s really also about Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and, of course, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. But, also, Ryan “Captain Canuck” Smyth.
Welcome back home Smyth, now bring the Cup with you.