Anaheim Mighty Ducks: Disney CEO Michael Eisner named the team after the hit Disney movie “The Mighty Ducks”.
Atlanta Thrashers: derived from Georgia’s state bird – the Brown Thrasher and the logo was designed to put forth a feeling of speed.
Boston Bruins: Businessman Charles Adams wanted his new franchise to have brown and yellow team colors to match his stores as well as a name equated with strength and power. A fan named the team in a contest.
Buffalo Sabres: The management held a contest and chose Sabres. Team officials wanted a fresh new name not being used in the pros, and something other than buffalo/bison variations.
Calgary Flames: Given to the team when it was in Atlanta to commemorate the burning of the city in the Civil War. When the team moved to Calgary, management held a contest/vote, and the fans chose to keep the Flames name, which also relates to Alberta’s petroleum industry.
Carolina Hurricanes: Hurricanes commonly make landfall in the North Carolina.
Chicago Blackhawks: Original owner Frederic McLaughlin named the team in honor of the Black Hawk Battalion he served with in WWI. The unit was named after a Chief Black Hawk. The name was merged to Blackhawks several years ago.
Colorado Avalanche: COMSAT gave Colorado fans a list of eight names to choose from and let the public respond. Avalanche was the most popular nickname among fans. The Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche on August 10, 1995.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Fan contest. Officially the Blue Jackets state the name has to do with celebrating patriotism, pride and the rich Civil War history in the state of Ohio and, city of Columbus. There was speculation the name could have also come from the fact the owner’s favorite color was blue, an insect with attitude logo had already been unveiled or perhaps to honor a Shawnee chief of the same name (there are various legal suits in the United States about the use by sports teams of native nation names and imagery.
Dallas Stars: Dallas is in Texas, the Lone STAR state. Also, when the team was in Minnesota, hockey fans chose the Minnesota state motto “Etoile du Nord” (Star of the North).
Detroit Red Wings: Then team president James Norris named it in honor of a team he had played with – the Montreal Winged Wheelers. The logo was perfect for the Motor City.
Edmonton Oilers: The management held a contest and chose Oilers, reflecting the importance of the oil industry. They kept the name when it moved from the World Hockey Association (WHA) to the National Hockey League.
Florida Panthers: H. Wayne Huizenaga wanted to draw attention to the Panther, an endangered native wildcat of Florida.
Hartford Whalers: When originally in the WHA, club was named New England Whalers for two reasons: (1) Massachusetts seaport towns connected to whaling; (2) the name had WHA in it (WHAlers). Name later changed to Hartford Whalers.
Los Angeles Kings: Two possible reasons: (1) The management held a contest and chose the name; (2) Jack Kent Cooke named them the Kings via executive decision, giving no specific reason.
Minnesota Wild: named in a contest. Six finalists named for new NHL franchise: Minnesota Blue Ox, Minnesota Freeze, Minnesota Northern Lights, Minnesota Voyageurs, Minnesota White Bears and Minnesota Wild. The state of Minnesota is well known for vast stretches of open wilderness, especially in the northern part of the state.
Montreal Canadiens: Representing the nationality of the players on the team. Originally, the team had only French Canadian players.
Nashville Predators: On September 27, 1997, held a season ticker holder event “Ice Breaker Bash”. Fans were surveyed and voted on the “Predators”. The name is linked to the area via fossils found in 1971 of a saber-toothed tiger, extinct for over 10,000 years.
New Jersey Devils: Comes from a legend: a witch allegedly gave birth to a demon known as “Jersey Devil” in 1735. The Jersey Devil was alleged to be a half-man, half-beast that stalked N.J.’s Pine Barrens or the area surrounding Lake Hopatcong for 250 years, causing fear and terror and basically mutilating his victims in an extreme display of guts and gore. Others say the Devil was the 13th child of Mother Leeds, jinxed by gypsies.
New York Islanders: The team is based in Uniondale, Long Island, N.Y.
New York Rangers: MSG President Tex Rickard’s team unofficially known as Tex’s Rangers (a play on Texas Rangers police), but Rangers was the official name.
Ottawa Senators: In honor of old Ottawa Senators hockey team that won 6 Stanley Cups. Originally: as Canada’s capital, the nickname for 1901 amateur team.
Philadelphia Flyers: After 25,000 entries, a committee chose Flyers, although the winning entry by a kid was spelled Fliers, because it went phonetically with Philadelphia.
Phoenix Coyotes: Management held a name the team contest, coyotes are/were fairly common in the desert south west United States.
Pittsburgh Penguins: The management held a contest and chose Penguins, partly because the team is in PENnsylvania.
Quebec Nordiques: Committee named them Nordiques (then in the WHA) because they were the northernmost team in pro hockey at 52 degrees North, 72 degrees West.
St. Louis Blues: Then owner Sid Salamon, Jr., drew inspiration from the famous song by W.C. Handy.
San Jose Sharks: Out of 5,000 entries, officials picked Sharks. 7 varieties in Pacific Ocean, several shark research facilities in area. One part of Bay Area is known as Red Triangle due to its shark population.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Tampa Bay is the lightning capital of the world.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Two possible reasons: (1) Then owner Conn Smythe drew inspiration from an old Toronto team called the East Maple Leaves; (2) when Conn Smythe bought the Toronto St. Patricks, his first act was to rename the team after the Maple Leaf Regiment of the First World War, as well as for the maple leaf on the Canadian flag. Originally, the team was known as the Arenas, then renamed St. Patricks, supposedly to attract the Irish.
Vancouver Canucks: The nickname was taken from a Canadian folk hero. The legend says that Johnny Canuck was a great logger, and was a skater and a hockey player in his spare time.
Washington Capitals: Washington, D.C. is the Capital of the U.S.
Winnipeg Jets: Then owner Ben Hatskin asked his pal Sonny Werblin, then owner of the National Football League’s New York Jets, for permission. The current team (the Atlanta Thrashers franchise) has yet to be officially named.
Les Canadiens Magazine, Magazine #6: 1991-92 Season Postings on the Internet Newsgroup rec.sport.hockey
Various history sections on official team sites.