The news out of the ECHL on Wednesday that the Greenville Road Warriors were re-branding themselves as the Swamp Rabbits not only impressed us with its sheer wackiness, but it got us thinking of some of the other offbeat nicknames that have been used over the years by various minor and junior teams across North America. Eliminating clearly commercial monikers—like the Hershey Chocolate Bars or St. Georges Cool 103.5 FM—right off the top, we arrived at this list of favorites.
It was a VP from the local Moosehead Brewery who initially pushed the concept of bringing a QMJHL expansion team to the Nova Scotia capital. He convinced the company’s president to get on board financially, and when the franchise was approved the pair used the both the corporate name and an approximation of the company logo to brand the new club. Synergy!
This CHL squad (1996-2001) took its name from a 1928 show tune (“Makin' Whoopee’) that referenced the act of sexual congress. A risqué enough choice for a sports club, but then the team doubled down by using a bird (a whooping crane) and a bee on its logo as well. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
If you’re from Louisiana no one needs to tell you what a mudbug is. But for the rest of us, it’s just a colorful way of describing a crayfish, a crawfish or a crawdad. Local colloquialisms are fun, but a mudbug makes for an oddball namesake, doesn’t it?
Based on the myth of an ancient American creature that had the body of a jackrabbit and the horns of an antelope, the mighty jackalope likely was inspired by the occasional sighting of bunnies suffering from a rare virus, the symptoms of which included antler-like tumors protruding from their skulls. Sick, deformed rabbits aren’t fun, but this nickname and logo sure are. It’s in its third incarnation, having been used by West Texas in the WPHL, the CHL and now the NAHL.
Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies
This short-lived (2001-05) ECHL club derived its unusual moniker from the city’s most prominent tourist attraction and the thugs who roamed it looking to pick on the weak and the unpopular. Well, maybe not exactly, but it was no accident that a team based an hour outside of Philadelphia chose a name that would appeal to fans of that city’s beloved Broad Street Bullies.
There are times when word mash-ups can be pretty great. Like jackalope. Or snowbesity. But this, this isn’t one of those times. This well-traveled franchise, which started out as the Windsor Spitfires in 1946 and now plays as the Erie Otters, needed a new nickname when it moved to Hamilton in 1974. Someone decided it would be a good idea to mix together the last names of owners Joe Finochio and brothers Ron and Mario Cupido. It was not.
Another awkward portmanteau, this one is trying to meld the region’s passion for thoroughbred horse racing with the relatively foreign (to the area) concept of skating. But maybe its biggest crime is the name it inspired for the AHL team’s cheerleaders: the Thoroughbabes.
We can blame the fans for this one. The organization put the call out for nicknames submissions, and of the 243 offered this one—which at least ensured that there would never be any confusion with Lewiston, New York—was chosen as the best of the bunch. Fortunately, this QMHJL club was saddled with the name, and equally misguided logo, for just eight seasons (2003-11) before it folded.
St. John's Fog Devils
Anyone who has spent any time in Newfoundland’s capital understands the Fog part of this colorful nickname. But the Devils? That appears to be shrouded in mystery. Feel free to enlighten us.
Honestly, the minotaur—that mythological half bull/half man—would make for a decent mascot/nickname, but coupled with this particular town name it comes off like a knock-off of the Simpsons baseball club the Shelbyville Shelbyvillains. It’s one of those names that in hindsight seems too clever by half.