Ranking the NHL’s best team dogs

The 2021-22 NHL season is well underway, and the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup has players across hockey begging to see their rivals go belly up. While the action heats up in this dog-eat-dog league, it’s time for a different kind of ranking: a countdown of the best NHL […]

The 2021-22 NHL season is well underway, and the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup has players across hockey begging to see their rivals go belly up. While the action heats up in this dog-eat-dog league, it’s time for a different kind of ranking: a countdown of the best NHL team dogs.

For those who might be scratching their heads (or ears): Several teams around the NHL have team dogs, many of whom are training under different organizations to become service dogs. These precocious pups are seen around team facilities, cuddling up to the players, posing for photos with fans (hopefully non-rabid ones) and being doggone cute social media darlings.

Disclaimer: All of these dogs are good, and none of them are bad. The ranking is based on an intricate and highly scientific system of factors, from cuteness to name to various puppy hijinks and more.

On to the rankings!

OK, these are not actual dogs, but they get a virtual belly scratch here. Fun fact: Harvey was the first NHL mascot, and was introduced by the team in 1983. Harvey is a cute name, and the alliteration with “hound” works, but it’s not the most hockey-centric moniker.

As for Bernie, he’s a lovable St. Bernard-based mascot with a surprisingly detailed backstory. What would move Bernie up higher in the rankings is if he had an actual canine counterpart. We don’t think we’re barking up the wrong tree with this suggestion, Avs management.

Bark is a therapy dog affiliated with the Golden Knights. He’s a Jack Russell terrier who’s full of attitude. Bark’s name is certainly top notch: a play on legendary Knights netminder Marc-André Fleury (now with the Blackhawks). In terms of cuteness and general fluff, of course, Bark’s bringing a lot to the table, and we’re sure the Knights have their tails a-wagging to have Bark between the pipes.

Puppies are the most pure, joyous, beautiful creatures on the planet, and the Isles’ pup is almost painfully cute. Seriously, try looking at a picture or video of him for a while and your heart starts to hurt. But it’s a good hurt, not the same hurt as, say, the kind Isles fans have been feeling with the team’s disappointing start to the season.

In September, the Oilers added Flex to their roster, and this 5-month-old Labrador is showing as much promise as Oilers captain Connor McDavid. Flex’s name could be more ice-centric, but her good looks and work ethic have her well on the way up the charts.

Smash’s name evokes “Smashville,” and in theory, predators should be intimidating and scary. Smash is neither. He’s enthusiastic, has a great smile, and his tongue looks like it could slurp up a Stanley Cup-sized bowl of water. Smash also recently made friends with a certain champion team dog. That’s what we like to see, friendly sports-dog-like conduct!

Bolt’s got a shockingly clever name, and is one of the squishiest-looking pups out of the bunch. He’s also the most recent Cup champion, so one could say that makes him the top dog.

Barclay has been with the Blues since 2018, including their Stanley Cup-winning squad in 2019, when, per the Blues’ website, Barclay was crowned “the first ever Stanley Pup champion.” Barclay’s name comes from Blues legend Barclay Plager, which is a touching tribute.

Sabres fans haven’t exactly had an easy go of things in recent years. And this season in particular has been especially painful. From a surprisingly successful start that quickly fizzled, to the Jack Eichel trade, Sabres fans have been looking for something pawsitive on which to focus. Behold Rick, the Newfoundland puppy in all his fluffy, adorable glory, named for iconic Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret. Finally, Sabres fans have a reason to celebrate.

Celly has the strongest team dog hockey name, paws down: “Celly” is a nickname for a goal celebration. And Celly is as adorable as his name sounds: His ears stick straight up like a hockey stick, and his energy is unmatched. Plus, at a Wild preseason game, Celly was caught making a steal that rivals teammate Kirill Kaprizov’s smooth moves.

Biscuit truly has it all: good looks, a killer hockey name (“biscuit” being a nickname for the puck) and a strong start when it comes to team dog antics. Biscuit has been dishing out kisses, running on the ice, pumping iron, touring monuments, meeting his predecessor Captain and tweeting up a storm. We think Biscuit has a bright future in this league, and we can’t wait to see what he’ll do next.

Honorable mentions: The graduates

An NHL paw-er ranking wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the team dogs who have since moved on to their service obligations and beyond:

Captain, Washington Capitals
Luna, Arizona Coyotes
Finn, San Jose Sharks
Ranger, New York Rangers
Tori, New York Islanders
Radar, New York Islanders
Flambo, Montreal Canadiens
Rookie, Ottawa Senators
Breezer, Minnesota Wild
Hobey, Minnesota Wild

Honorable mention: Non-dog category

The Dallas Stars get a nod here for their adoption of a calf in 2019, which was subsequently named Mike Moodano (as a play on franchise icon Mike Modano):

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Devils don’t have a team dog (yet), but they’ve got a good sense of humor about it:

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