After four decades of ice hockey, fans of the Philadelphia Flyers finally have joined 30 other National Hockey League (NHL) teams and have introduced their own team mascot.
Gritty, the mascot was introduced to Flyers fans on Monday, Sept. 24, at a public event and was later seen that evening at their preseason game against the Boston Bruins.
Gritty has absolutely torn the internet to shreds in the past week since the Flyers introduced him on Monday.
This Thursday night, Gritty made an appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon. During a skit with Fallon’s guest, comedian Ricky Gervais, Gritty interrupted Gervais dancing with Fallon, which prompted Gervais to push Gritty back and punch him in the face. Fallon then interceded and prevented Gritty from engaging Gervais in what would have been a hockey fight.
Gritty is what he pretends to be: a 7-foot fur-ball whose sole purpose is lumbering around and intimidating anyone unfortunate enough to run into the rugged mascot. The Flyers’ new mascot embodies their famous nickname, The Broad Street Bullies, which was first given to the Flyers during the early 1970s.
Gritty has generated a lot of buzz in the sports world and on social media, including with students here at Montclair State University.
Sophomore communications major George Jamgochian describes what he initially thought when he first saw Gritty.
“It looks like something created by Jim Henson if he was broke and sleep deprived,” Jamgochian said. “He looks ridiculous, and I don’t know what the designers were thinking.”
Even for students here at Montclair State who don’t follow the NHL or the Flyers, Gritty is a little too gaudy. Senior film major Ryan Gallagher finds some features of Gritty disgusting.
“He looks like he has pepperoni in his mustache,” Gallagher said, describing his facial features. “He looks like if a Sesame Street [character] had a lion’s mane with too much hair. It doesn’t really remind me of the Flyers at all.”
Alana Shimmel, a senior theater studies major, jerked back when she first saw a picture of Gritty, who she had no clue existed.
“He looks ridiculous,” Shimmel said. “He looks like a cartoon.”
Shimmel related the Flyers’ mascot to the old McDonald’s mascot, Grimace.
“He looks like a big, orange, furry McNugget,” Shimmel said.
One thing is certain, these students did not know what the designers were thinking when they developed Gritty. Yet, one gritty player that played for the Flyers for seven seasons from 2007-2014 is Scott Hartnell. He, like Gritty’s shaggy red fur, sported a rugged red beard for seven seasons as a Flyer. Furthermore, the beard was recognized by fans as a symbol of Scott Hartnell’s hard-nosed and gritty style of play, which is synonymous with the Flyers’ reputation of fighting and penalties.
Aside from Gritty’s appearance and how it resembles real players on the Flyers, Gritty has not just been created so that it can attract a younger audience, but Gritty can draw attention to the Flyers ahead of this season—something the Flyers and their rivals, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, could use considering they all finished at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division last year.
Right before last season started, the Las Vegas Golden Knights introduced Chance as their mascot. Chance was not nearly as odd-looking as Gritty and did not generate the same level of controversial attention as Gritty has this year. However, the Golden Knights played very well last year.
The Golden Knights ranked 17th in attendance on their home ice last season. It was better than the 90-year-old NHL franchise the New York Rangers, who play their home games at the iconic Madison Square Garden. To prove my point that the Golden Knights had one of the best inaugural seasons any team has had, Vegas not only won the Pacific Division but also made it to the Stanley Cup Final, which no one expected them to do.
So I ask everyone who doubts the Flyers for introducing a new mascot to their fanbase ahead of this NHL season, if the Vegas Golden Knights were able to win their division and make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final appearance with a new mascot, then what’s stopping the Flyers from doing the same this year?