The Edmonton Oilers have their first-ever mascot: Hunter the Canadian Lynx.
Hunter will make his debut Monday night at the first NHL game at Rogers Place arena, where the Oilers will face off in a pre-season game against the Calgary Flames.
According to the Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones, the mascot was made locally by International Mascot Corporation — a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of mascot costumes.
A lynx was decided on because it was the most popular choice in a survey of 2,200 kindergarten to Grade 9 students.
“We worked with the Edmonton Valley Zoo to identify some animals in the region to create some mascot concepts and execute some market research,” Oiler Entertainment Group senior vice-president of marketing Jeff Harrop told the Edmonton Sun.
“The Canadian lynx was identified as one. We found it had extreme popularity with visitors of the Valley Zoo and discovered there are more Canadian Lynx in Alberta than anywhere in the world.”
Watch below: The Edmonton Oilers have their first-ever mascot: Hunter the Canadian lynx. Online producer Slav Kornik has fan reaction on Global News at Noon.
Hunter was named after the late Bill Hunter, a hockey promoter, organizer, player, general manager and coach. He founded the Edmonton Oilers franchise in the World Hockey Association in 1972.
For his efforts, Hunter was awarded the Order of Canada in 2000 and was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. He died in Edmonton on December 16, 2002 at the age of 82.
The mascot will wear Number 72 on his Oilers jersey as a tribute to “Wild Bill.”
Until now, Edmonton was one of the few remaining NHL teams to not have a mascot. The Calgary Flames Harvey the Hound was the NHL’s first mascot when it was introduced in 1983.
Below is some of the witty social media reaction to the new mascot.
The majority of the younger Edmontonians Global News spoke to liked Hunter.
“To be honest, I actually really like it though,” Carson said. “It’s going to bring a new era to the Oilers.”
A few were even excited to see him at the Oilers games and on the ice.
“That would be awesome if it was running around on the ice,” her friend AJ added. “Go Oilers!”
Others were taken aback by how the new mascot looks.
“What?” Bhavik yelled. “Why is it so scary looking? That’s the new mascot? Oh my god. He looks scary. I don’t like it. Why is he… actually, it’s OK.”
“I don’t know, it’s just like scary,” Colson said. “I don’t understand it either. Why a cat of all things?
“I’m so confused. It’s the most confusing thing I’ve ever seen. They’re the Oilers but it’s a cat.”
Four-year-old Sumaiya said Hunter was “kind of cool.”
When asked if she thought he was scary, she replied: “Nope.”