Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

How Did the Penguins Get Their Name?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

How Did the Penguins Get Their Name?

Article excerpt

We salute the designer of the Pittsburgh Penguins logo for accomplishing the seemingly impossible: Transforming a flightless, waddling bird into an aggressive, determined and intimidating beast with a hockey stick.

Hmm. We wonder what that designer could do with an aardvark. Or a cricket.

The question crossed our minds last week when we came across a 1967 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article about the naming of our favorite National Hockey League team. Early that year, Pittsburghers had suggested a total of 356 monikers for what was the city's newest entry into professional sports. Unthreatening animals were a theme, of sorts. One name put forward: the Pussycats. Mice shuddered.

A favorite suggestion was the Hornets, already the name of the city's longtime American Hockey League team. But that name was unavailable - it belonged to the AHL franchise that was moving out to make way for this as-yet-unnamed NHL expansion team.

Naming of the team was a public affair. Three organizations - the Post-Gazette, the Hockey Club of Pittsburgh and Mellon National Bank - conducted a contest in which Pittsburghers were asked to send in suggestions.

Hockey fans dropped names into boxes at the Civic Arena and Mellon Bank. Others were sent to the PG. In all, contest organizers were flooded with 26,400 entries.

Some of the suggestions were predictable. Among them the Pipers, the Pioneers and the Golden Triangles. Others, like the Zeniths and the Queens, caused a bit of head scratching.

Entries were sent to a selection committee that eventually chose a name submitted by 716 different people.

The winner, of course: The Penguins.

"It seemed natural," committee member Pete Block told the PG. "The penguin lives on ice; hockey players make their living on ice. And then there is the nickname of 'Big Igloo' which has become a part of the Civic Arena. …

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