(Photo Credit: David E. Klutho / Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn

We all love the Bruins. Some of us have been watching since the days of Bourque and Neely. We have some who grew up with Chara and Lucic and some who are just starting to follow the Black and Gold. The children who love to watch the Bruins are also a significant part of the fanbase. For any team, entertaining young fans who will become loyal fans is crucial. They will one day have kids of their own to pass on their fandom to the next generation.

There are many things that kids may enjoy about sporting events, but one strategy many teams use to keep kids engaged is to have a fun mascot. The Boston Red Sox have one of the most iconic mascots in sports, Wally the Green Monster, but he isn’t the only great mascot in Boston. Blades the Bruin is about to celebrate his 22nd birthday on October 1. Therefore, I thought this was an appropriate time to explain why Blades is one of the best mascots in the entire league.

Blades was named by current Boston Pride captain Jillian Dempsey when she was nine. Since then, he’s been a staple of Bruins games at the TD Garden. He is one of 31 NHL mascots, and although USA Today only ranked him 11th, I think he deserves to be near the top of the list. It seems pretty apparent that Gritty is regarded as the most popular NHL mascot. However, I believe part of his popularity can be attributed to his loud introduction to the league and his outrageous design. When you think about mascots seriously (which I realize is a ridiculous thing to do), he doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Blades has a distinct advantage over many other mascots because he accurately represents his team’s name. The Bruins are one of about 15 to 18 teams that have an apparent tangible mascot. They’re one of 11 teams with an unmistakable animal associated with them and one of eight that use the name of an animal as their team nickname. That makes him one of just eight mascots that can directly reflect the team name, which I think is something to consider for mascots.

Blades also makes a great mascot because he toes the line between intimidating and cute. If the Bruins used an accurate representation of a brown bear (like the Bruins hockey rules commercials), it probably would be a bit too scary for kids, but if they used something too much like a cartoon, older fans would likely have a problem with it, much like the problems people have with the Pooh Bear logo. Blades walks right on that line and looks fierce, but he is still not super scary.

I respect that some people like how outrageous Gritty is or how goofy Youppi (who represents the Canadiens) is, but I think a mascot like Blades needs more appreciation. He directly reflects his team, he is fun enough that kids love him, and he is fierce enough that adults can appreciate him representing their favorite team. I think appreciating Blades is also a very effective way to remind ourselves that hockey is supposed to be fun as we enter another season in which there will probably be a lot of stress, frustration, and anger. Let’s go, Bruins!