Going Down Wikipedia’s NHL Rabbit Hole
I love Wikipedia. It’s a great source for information and anecdotes about just about everything you could imagine. Granted, not all of that information is true, or vaguely accurate, or even spelled correctly. But it’s interesting, and you can learn a lot. NHL teams are no exception, and all 30 have extensive Wikipedia pages that go into exhaustive details about the franchise’s historic highs and lows.
It’s that latter category that can be especially fun. So I spent some time reading through the site’s version of each team’s history and picking out the most ridiculous passages. Here are my selections for the strangest, funniest, or just plain saddest direct quotes from each NHL franchise’s current Wikipedia page.
Another well known blunder occurred in October 1995 when Wild Wing, attempting to jump through a “wall of fire”, accidentally tripped causing the mascot to land on the fire and set his costume ablaze.
Yes, this is an actual thing that really happened. If you’ve ever wanted to watch footage of a mascot face-planting (beak-planting?) and catching fire, repeatedly, set to the soundtrack of a Beastie Boys song, then you’re in luck.
The franchise would not win another playoff series for 25 years.
Is that good? I feel like that’s not good.
[Frank] Brimsek had an award-winning season, capturing the Vezina and Calder Trophies, becoming the first rookie named to the NHL First All-Star Team, and earning the nickname “Mr. Zero”. The team skating in front of Brimsek included Bill Cowley, [Eddie] Shore, [Dit] Clapper and “Sudden Death” Mel Hill (who scored three overtime goals in one playoff series), together with the “Kraut Line” of center Milt Schmidt, right winger Bobby Bauer and left winger Woody Dumart.
Man, they just don’t make clever hockey nicknames like Mr. Zero and Sudden Death any more. Then again, they don’t make blatantly racist hockey nicknames like the Kraut Line anymore either. Maybe ease up a little there, 1930s Boston.
During a face-off and through the fog, Sabres center Jim Lorentz spotted a bat flying across the rink, swung at it with his stick, killing it. It was the only time that any player killed an animal during an NHL game.
I’m glad someone took the time to clarify that NHL players killing animals during games is relatively rare. I’m pretty sure that’s in The Code somewhere.
Harvey the Hound is the Flames’ mascot. [...] Harvey is famous for an incident in January 2003 where he had his tongue ripped out by Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish as he was harassing their bench.
This also actually happened. Apparently, being an NHL mascot is a much more dangerous job than you’d think. I wonder if a player has ever killed one during a game.
In 2006–07, the Hurricanes finished third in the Southeast and eleventh overall in the Eastern Conference. This finish made them the first champions since the 1938–39 Chicago Black Hawks to have failed to qualify for the playoffs both the seasons before and after their championship season.
Nice try, nefarious Wikipedia vandal, but your made-up “facts” aren’t going to fool any real hockey fans. I mean, really: The 2006 Hurricanes winning the Stanley Cup? As if that ever happened.
According to Jim Coleman, sportswriter for the Toronto Globe and Mail, [owner Frederic] McLaughlin felt the ‘Hawks were good enough to finish first. [Coach Pete] Muldoon disagreed, and in a fit of pique, McLaughlin fired him. According to Coleman, Muldoon responded by yelling, “Fire me, Major, and you’ll never finish first. I’ll put a curse on this team that will hoodoo it until the end of time.” The Curse of Muldoon was born — although Coleman admitted years after the fact that he had fabricated the whole incident — and became one of the first widely known sports “curses.”
A quick power ranking of the many things I love about this passage:
5. The use of the phrase “in a fit of pique.”
4. The completely unnecessary scare quotes on “curses.”
3. That the curse applied to regular-season standings and didn’t actually prevent the team from winning multiple Stanley Cups over the next decade. Oops. Always take a minute to think your curses through, spurned NHL coaches!
2. The almost casual mention of the entire thing being completely and totally made up.
1. “Hoodoo it until the end of time.” I have no idea what that even means but I thoroughly enjoyed it and plan to start working it into every conversation I have.
There were doubts if goalie David Aebischer could perform at the top level the team was used to while having [Patrick] Roy.
I’m not sure that “doubts” is the right word there. There are doubts about the existence of UFOs. There are doubts about the Cubs winning the World Series this year. David Aebischer not being quite as good as Patrick Roy? I think the word you were looking for there was “certainty.”
Jack Johnson, Marián Gáborík, Sergei Bobrovsky, David Vyborny, Ray Whitney, Bryan Berard, Fredrik Modin, Steve Mason, Rick Nash and Sergei Fedorov are some of the more prominent NHL figures to have donned a Columbus jersey.
Whoa, whoa, whoa … both David Vyborny and Fredrik Modin? Come on, Columbus, spread some of the superstar talent around the rest of the league!
(In related news, apparently David Vyborny and Fredrik Modin are Wikipedia editors.)
The uniform, which was black with a green bottom and red trim, featured a modern representation of the constellation Taurus topped by a trailing green star with red trail marks. However, fans and critics derided the uniform crest for its resemblance to a uterus, nicknaming it the “Mooterus”.
This is where I’d put some sort of tongue-in-cheek comment, but I honestly don’t have anything that would top “Mooterus.” Let’s move on.
On April 19, 2008, NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell sent a memo to the Detroit Red Wings organization that forbids Zamboni drivers from cleaning up any octopuses thrown onto the ice and that violating the mandate would result in a $10,000 fine. [...] In an email to the Detroit Free Press, NHL spokesman Frank Brown justified the ban because “matter flies off the octopus and gets on the ice” when Al Sobotka does it.
Damn it, Al Sobotka, you ruin everything.
(Al Sobotka does not ruin everything. Al Sabotka is a badass.)
Nelson Riis, the New Democratic Party leader in Canada’s House of Commons, went so far as to ask the government to block the [Wayne Gretzky] trade.
Riis also compared the Oilers without Gretzky to Wheel of Fortune without Vanna White. Canadian politics is weird.
On the night of the Panthers’ 1995–96 home opener, a rat scurried across the team’s locker room. [Scott] Mellanby reacted by “one-timing” the rat against the wall, killing it.
Jim Lorentz would just like to clarify that this happened before the game, so his record remains intact. Also, I like how this specifies that Mellanby one-timed the rat. Less-skilled rodent slayers would have stopped and stickhandled the rat before getting the shot off.
Frustrated by his dealings with the Coliseum Commission, [owner Jack Kent] Cooke said, “I am going to build my own arena…I’ve had enough of this balderdash.”
Whoa there, Jack, let’s not go and say anything we’re going to regret. “Balderdash”? Sounds like somebody may be in a fit of pique.
The questions surrounding the identity of the animal depicted has sparked debate amongst logo enthusiasts [...] Some feel as though the form of the animal on the logo is that of a bear, while the majority view it to be a wolverine.
Yeah, I’ve always been a little confused about what the Wild logo is supposed to be, since it’s kind of ambiguous depending on how you … wait a second, “logo enthusiasts”? That’s a thing that exists? And they sit around and debate each other? I bet they’re super fun to hang out with at parties.
Beginning in the 2004–05 NHL season, the Canadiens adopted Youppi as their official mascot, the first costumed mascot in their long history.
I can’t be the only one who’s now wondering how many naked mascots they’ve had.
To go along with the saber-toothed cat mascot, Predators fans proudly use their Fang Fingers during each power play of the game.
Proudly, indeed. For example, here’s a clip of Taylor Swift breaking out the Fang Fingers with what can only be described as unbridled enthusiasm. The clip ends when a concerned passerby hands her a note reading, “You look like an idiot right now.”
“Well, it’s time they got their act together, folks. They’re ruining the whole league. They had better stop running a Mickey Mouse organization and put somebody on ice.”
Everyone’s a critic. Ignore those haters, New Jersey. Just because some random know-nothing wants to weigh in with their two cents doesn’t mean you should … sorry, who was it that said that? Oh. Huh. Yeah, that stings a little bit.
In July, Newsday exposed [owner John] Spano as a fraud who did not have the assets required to complete the deal. [...] He was sentenced to 71 months in prison for bank and wire fraud. The NHL was embarrassed when reports surfaced that it spent less than $1,000 (depending on the source, the league spent either $525 or $750) to check Spano’s background.
Well, wait, which is it? I think we would all agree that a major professional sports league spending $525 to do its due diligence on a new owner would be ridiculous, while ramping that all the way up to $750 seems completely reasonable.
The first team crest was a horse sketched in blue carrying a cowboy waving a hockey stick aloft …
Hmm. Sounds intriguing, but I’d want to find out what the logo enthusiasts think.
The strategy of aiming low and securing a high draft position did not change.
Good call there — you always want to stick with what’s working. (Coincidentally, “the strategy of aiming low” was also how my wife ended up married to me.)
Also, how is it possible this doesn’t have its own 800-word section? No wonder nobody trusts you, Wikipedia.
The Flyers were the first and one of only two NHL teams (the Hartford Whalers being the other) to wear Cooperalls, hockey pants that extend from the waist to the ankles, in 1981–82.
I think I speak for everyone when I say we appreciate the detailed anatomical reference point to explain the difficult concept of “pants.”
Mario Lemieux retires and returns, second bankruptcy (1998–2001)
This is an actual section header that appears on the Penguins’ page. That’s what we’d call an eventful four years. Those seven words literally contain more interesting events than have occurred to the St. Louis Blues in their entire franchise history. It’s also comes dangerously close to being a haiku, so if anyone wants to just go ahead and fix that, the rest of us won’t stop you.
Over 5,000 potential names were submitted by mail for the new team. While the first-place finisher was “Blades,” the Gunds were concerned about the name’s potentially negative association with weapons, and went with the runner-up, “Sharks.”
Yes, good call there. You wouldn’t want to name your team after something that frequently kills people.
The Blues are the oldest NHL team never to have won the Stanley Cup.
While true, it’s worth noting that this sentence appears in the page’s opening paragraph. It shows up before we even get to the table of contents. That’s pretty much the equivalent of hitting somebody in the face with a folding chair before the bell rings.
Rumors abounded as early as the team’s second season that the Lightning were on the brink of bankruptcy and that the team was part of a money laundering scheme for the yakuza (Japanese crime families). Its scouting operation consisted of Tony Esposito and several satellite dishes.
Tony Esposito and Several Satellite Dishes would be a good name for a band.
When it was obvious that the Arenas would not be able to finish the season, the NHL agreed to let the team halt operations on February 20, 1919 and proceed directly to the playoffs.
Wait … is that still an option? Can you still just shut down your season in mid-February and go straight to the playoffs? Because this would have been good information to have over the past few years in Toronto.
The team has gone through thirteen different logo and jersey changes in its history.
And thus begins a roughly 800-word section that details each and every one. I’m not exaggerating when I say it may well be the most depressing section of any Wikipedia page ever created. I strongly suggest setting aside the time to read the whole thing, but here are some of the highlights:
• The description of one early design as looking like “a punch in the eye.”
• A later design that was referred to as both the “waffle iron” and the “plate of spaghetti.”
• The design they had to stop making “because jersey-maker CCM no longer produced the required hues.” In other words, the Vancouver Canucks once had to change their uniform because the colors they were using ceased to exist. That’s generally a sign you’ve made a design error somewhere along the way.
On October 7, 2011, True North announced they had recalled their former mascot Mick E. Moose from the AHL.
Sadly, Mick E. Moose was immediately claimed on re-entry waivers by the Nashville Predators and was never seen again.
The Capitals’ inaugural season was dreadful, even by expansion standards. They finished with far and away the worst record in the league at 8–67–5. [...] Coach Jim Anderson said, “I’d rather find out my wife was cheating on me than keep losing like this. At least I could tell my wife to cut it out.”
All things considered, Jim Anderson takes his wife’s hypothetical infidelity pretty darn well. She’s out there breaking her most sacred marriage vows, and all he does is drop his Dave Coulier impression on her. That’s remarkable restraint. Most guys in that situation would probably hoodoo it until the end of time.
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