EDMONTON — For the first time in franchise history, the Edmonton Oilers will have a mascot prowling around the rink.
The Oilers unveiled "Hunter'' the Canadian lynx Monday. The team's first mascot will be a presence at home games as the team moves into the new Rogers Place facility for the 2016-17 NHL season.
The mascot is named after (Wild) Bill Hunter, the original owner of the Alberta Oilers when they entered the Western Hockey Association in 1972. Hunter will wear No. 72 on the back of his Oilers jersey.
The Oilers said in a release that adding a mascot will help the team strengthen ties in the Edmonton community. In addition to entertaining fans at Rogers Place, the team said Hunter will make other appearances, including hospital visits, festivals, school visits and other community events.
Hunter has not been universally praised on social media. With his four sharp fangs, large head and green-tinged eyes, some Twitter posters said the mascot is likely to give kids nightmares.
But the team said the Canadian lynx was the overwhelming favourite when the team polled over 2,220 Edmonton-area students on what mascot concept they preferred.