Those fluffy, lovable little warriors of whimsy that are hell-bent on rallying the crowd with a somersault and a chuckle.
A well-conceived mascot can electrify the stands, sell merchandise, and give its franchise one more dynamic with which to be recognized by the sports community.
Fabric and yarn do not a success make, however, as an ill-conceived character can elicit a subconscious (or very direct) pity reaction from fans who merely feel bad for the poor sucker sweating underneath those layers of cloth.
Trust me. I'm from Pittsburgh.
In a town that has the Pirate Parrot and Steely McBeam, we know the markings of a great mascot against aesthetic pink-eye.
From firing t-shirts and hot dogs into the arena to performing stunts of daring during intermission, a lovable mascot weaves the fiber of aggressive fanaticism and child-like exuberance for games that often take themselves too seriously.
And, fans at Heinz Field have spent enough time trying to avoid the bastardized Steely McBeam (would you claim that guy?) to understand when nothing amounts to more than something.
Pictured above is a veritable who's who gallery of NHL mascots, some clearly better than others. In a countdown that would make Jim Henson proud, we will look at the five best and worst fabric creations that hockey has to offer!