21 years ago the Minnesota Wild got its name, but it could've been worse

It's not the most popular of team names, but thank your lucky North Stars it wasn't the 'Blue Ox.'
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It's 21 years to the day that Minnesota adopted what some consider one of the worst names in American sports: The Wild.

Professional hockey started making its way back to Minnesota on this day in 1998, bringing an end to a hiatus following the sale of the beloved (and awesomely-named) North Stars in 1993.

It was at the Aldrich Arena in Maplewood that the team was officially named the Minnesota Wild

It hasn't proved a particularly popular name with fans, regularly being ranked among the worst-named teams in major American sports – for example it comes 4th on this list by Bleacher Report, behind only the Blue Jackets, the Warriors and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

But I'm here to argue it could have been much worse, because do you recall the five other finalists picked out of around 13,000 possible names submitted by fans?

They were: Freeze, Northern Lights, Blue Ox, White Bears, Voyageurs and Wild.

All I can say is that if these were the six best options out of all put forward, then there must have been some 12,994 truly awful suggestions.

Here's why each of them sucks in their own way.


The Minnesota Freeze. Ok, it's relevant to hockey, but the franchise would forever be linked with Arnold Schwarzenegger's ill-fated role in arguably the worst superhero movie of all time, exacerbated by the advent of social media, gifs and memes.

Northern Lights

I reckon this is the best of an otherwise bad bunch, but it's a bit of a mouthful. North Stars rolls off the tongue beautifully but could you really see yourself saying: "I support the Northern Lights" and not feel a little silly? The Wild isn't perfect, but it's better than that.

Blue Ox

Don't get me started on this. Seriously. Yes, I know, Paul Bunyan and Babe and all that, but for the love of Christmas you'd be naming the team after a SINGULAR animal. The "Wild" sucks for this reason too but at least it refers to broader concept. "Blue Ox" on the other hand?

Imagine if NHL had teams called the Pittsburgh Penguin, the Anaheim Duck, and – worst of all – the true crime podcast-sounding Nashville Predator?

If you're a team being named after animals, make it plural, in which case it would be the Minnesota Blue Oxen, which is so truly terrible I almost wish they'd done it.

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White Bears

Yes there's a popular Native American legend about a white bear at Manitou Island in White Bear Lake. But the first thing most think of when you say "white bears" are polar bears. There are none in Minnesota* and those in the Arctic are dying, which is sad. Next.


This isn't that bad, but nobody else outside of Minnesota would know what it refers to and many would pronounce it incorrectly (like Minnesotans saying "Mille Lacs" or anything else French named in this state).

If you're going to name it after a famous geographical landmark in Minnesota, call them the Minnesota Superiors – we are the best state after all, though this would be a good joke now since the Wild have been anything but superior since 1998.

* Note: Before any of you say "but there are white bears that aren't polar bears, they're called 'Kermode bears.'" Yeah, they're not found in Minnesota either.

Next Up


Wild: 'We support the League's position'

The Minnesota Wild issued a statement to its fans Sunday morning after the NHL and its players association did not reach a collective bargaining agreement by 11 p.m. Saturday, which will probably delay the season. It wasn't long ago the Wild were celebrating the biggest coup in the NHL this year by any team – the acquisition of stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Wild fans couldn't wait for the season to start Oct. 13. But they'll likely have to keep waiting.