Liam O’Brien – 6’1″, 205 lbs. 2 Career NHL Regular Season Fights...
Warning: May Contain Mascots (AHL ASG Edition)
After last night’s Caps game, we all need something to distract us and lift the spirits. Not that there weren’t fantastic stand-out moments, but it wasn’t how anyone had hoped to start the post-All Star Game (ASG) run. The Capitals Outsider response is thus: Bring on the Mascots!!
One of the greatest things about the AHL All Star Game (and, I suspect, the NHL version, though I can’t speak from personal experience) is the sheer quantity of mascot shenanigans involved. The game serves as an exhibition site for the costumed critter brigade just as much as the skating crowd, and they always make the most of it.
Setting the Stage:
It must first be duly acknowledged that mascot shenanigans are a given part of large-scale sports events. The most relevant hockey-related faces being Coco the Bear, who regularly hits the ice at Hershey’s Giant Center between periods, and the well-known Capitals mascot Slapshot. Down in Charleston, the Stingrays have Cool Ray (for the record, I have no idea how he fits through doors).
Verizon Center even periodically hosts a mascot game of their own (most recently on January 15th). So it’s not that mascots acting out is an entirely novel concept. The air of relaxed celebration at the AHL All Star Game allows everyone to step back, engaging in a casual game of one-upsmanship that takes part over the two days of activities. It doesn’t hurt that they have the benefit of TV Timeouts during the ASG – something which is not a routine element of minor league games.
In The Crowd:
Mascots do some of their best work in the crowd, and the ASG provides plenty of time to make the rounds. While most encounters are of the classic “Can we take your picture?!” variety, there’s a fair bit of showboating that goes on as well.
On the Stage:
Boardwalk Hall, which played host to this year’s AHL’s All Star festivities, is large enough that the primary stage in the facility was left intact beyond the East-bench side of the rink. The mascots took advantage of the stage, for a variety of antics – coordinated dancing, pantomime, and of course…
On the Ice:
The crew in question being hockey mascots, their best moments were to be found on the ice. During the first intermission of the ASG proper, the mascots held their own game – complete with Buddy the Puffin (of the St. John’s IceCaps) officiating.
A Note of Appreciation:
Mascots tend to get a bad reputation. Like goalies, the individuals behind the suits often have personalities that are a smidge or two outside of the norm. Most are athletes in their own right, negotiating heavy costumes and awkward balance problems to run, jump, skate, and make utter fools of themselves for the entertainment of others.
Twenty-two mascots were in attendance at this year’s AHL All Star Game, representing 21 of the teams in the league. While there are 30 teams in the league, the Texas Stars currently have no mascot.
List of the Missing: Chicago Wolves (Skates), Lake Erie Monsters (Sullivan C. Goal), Oklahoma City Barons (Derrick), Peoria Rivermen (Barry), Providence Bruins (Samboni), Springfield Falcons (Screech), Syracuse Crunch (Al the Ice Gorilla) and the Toronto Marlies (Duke).
Further Images: For more mascot images from the 2012 AHL All Star Game, check out the Flickr Album Here.