Why is Boston’s hockey team called the Bruins?

Why is Boston’s hockey team called the Bruins?

The Bruins played their 94th NHL season in 2018-19. Fans have long been accustomed to the team’s trademark black-and-gold color scheme, the idealized aggressive and skilled style of “Bruins hockey,” and the phrase ‘don’t poke the bear’ serving as a warning to opponents across the league. It’s ingrained in the city’s sports culture.

But do you ever stop and wonder why the NHL’s first American franchise is called the Bruins? Where the black and gold comes from?

The second part is pretty clear. The first part features some variations.

What the Boston Globe‘s archives say

The name

Deep in the Globe‘s archives lies an article from Sept. 27, 1924, titled “Boston May Enter Pro Hockey League.” It states that Boston was rumored to soon enter the NHL as the league’s sixth team.


No mention of the team’s potential name was made then, nor on Nov. 3, 1924, when the Globe reported Boston’s club was formally admitted to membership within the NHL.

The Globe first reported Boston’s hockey team would be called the Bruins on Nov. 14, 1924. Charles Adams, the Bruins’ founder, and Art Ross, who served as the team’s first coach from 1924 to 1945, reportedly picked the name together. The Browns were also considered an option, but Ross reportedly “feared that the Brownie construction that might be applied to the team would savor too much of kid stuff.”

The uniform

Brown and gold, not black and gold. The Globe noted Adams’s apparent favor toward the color brown at the time: “The pro magnate’s four thoroughbreds are brown; his 50 [grocery] stores are brown; his Guernsey cows are of the same color; brown is the pre-dominating color among his Durco pigs on his Framingham estate, and the Rhode Island hens are brown, although Pres Adams wouldn’t say whether or not the eggs they lay are of a brown color.”

The Bruins’ official history

According to the Boston Bruins history page on the team’s website, the founder Adams held a contest to decide the name after earning the NHL club in November 1924. The stipulations? The color scheme of the club had to be brown with yellow trim, matching the color scheme of a grocery store chain Adams also owned, and the name would relate to an “untamed animal  embodied with size, strength, agility, ferocity and cunning, while also in the color brown category.”


The Bruins’ website reports that after the initial contest yielded no appealing names, a secretary at one of Adams’s  grocery stores thought of the “Bruins” nickname. A team spokesperson recently confirmed to Boston.com that the story of the secretary was featured in old team media guides, and that the team believes it to be true.

Google’s online dictionary defines “bruin” as a late 15th-century word identifying a bear, originating from the Dutch word for “brown.”  According to the Bruins’ website, the uniform’s color scheme changed from brown and gold to black and gold in 1934.

Art Ross picked the name himself

Two more sources suggest it was Art Ross, not Adams, who named the Bruins.

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A 2016 NHL.com article reported the origins of each NHL team’s name before the Vegas Golden Knights joined the league in 2017. It states that Art Ross named the team himself for the animal’s “ferocious nature” and the added benefit of alliteration when paired with the word “Boston.”

A 2011 Bleacher Report article also suggests Ross’s input was highly influential in selecting the team’s name.


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Published at Wed, 01 May 2019 13:53:44 +0000