Youppi appreciation tweet

Who’s your favorite NHL mascot, and why did you pick Gritty?

When you radiate the raw sex appeal that Gritty does, you can’t help but turn heads. Graphic Brie Shimansky

When it comes to loveable mascots, Montreal Canadiens’ fans have a star of their own: Youppi. He’s our local hero, he has the home advantage (sports reference), and yet, I can’t help but think of another man—or monster, I’m not quite sure what he is. All I know for sure is that Gritty has caught my attention in a way that Youppi couldn’t. I’m not saying we should pit these charming characters against each other because that would be like comparing apples and oranges, but since they’re both orange maybe it’s worth a try anyway.

Youppi was adopted by the Habs in 2005, though his story goes back much further—all the way back when you could catch him cheering for the Expos. Former Montreal Canadiens president, Pierre Boivin, said, “Youppi has touched the lives of countless fans of all ages with both his in-game enthusiasm and with his generosity throughout the Montreal community.” So in terms of personality, Youppi just seems like the mascot equivalent of ‘a nice guy.’ He does what he’s meant to: smile, wave, and hype up the fans—no more, no less. 

He’s consistent, I’ll give him that. But, the thing with consistency, is it lends itself to predictability. Like if he were to go for lunch, the waiter would ask him, “the usual?” And his meal of choice would be a grilled chicken sandwich with regular mayo instead of spicy, which is fine, but where’s the flavor? Much like his order, Youppi is a timeless classic.

Gritty, on the other hand, is fresh as fuck. He’s much newer to the game as he was introduced by the Philadelphia Flyers only a few years ago, in 2018. He’s a Gen-Z baby and he acts like one too. Former Flyers chief operating officer, Shawn Tigler, said, “It’s his personality. We don’t tame him.” For example, when he made his Twitter debut, he posted a photo of himself with the caption, “it me #Gritty.” Then, the Pittsburgh Penguins quoted it to say, “lol ok.” And in true Gritty fashion, he replied, “Sleep with one eye open tonight, bird.” 

For that reason, some have called Gritty a meme and a mockery. And it might just be my soft spot as a satirical sports journalist, but I don’t see the issue with that. He offers an unconventional perspective, which makes him stand out among his counterparts—although maybe his googly eyes and grotesque smile would have probably been enough. His chaotic nature makes it so that the only thing expected of him, is the unexpected.

Still, looking into Youppi’s legacy, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he has a bit of a mischievous streak in him. In 1989, he became the first ever mascot to get kicked out of a Major League Baseball game. He was napping in the dugout, which annoyed the Dodgers’ manager, Tommy Lasorda, to the extent that he had Youppi removed. Like that’s kinda badass? Who would've thought that it would take Youppi napping to get me to stop sleeping on him.

No doubt you’re thinking that getting ejected from a game sounds more like something Gritty would do, and rest assured, he did it too. In 2019, he ran through the stadium, jersey in hand, streaking to show off all his gritty goods. After he was escorted out, of course, he tweeted, “worth it.” It just goes to show that beyond being a laugh riot, Gritty is a body-positive icon—all the more reason to adore him. 

His chaotic nature makes it so that the only thing expected of him, is the unexpected.

Ultimately, the biggest difference between these two mascots is that Youppi represents the Montreal Canadiens’ brand, whereas Gritty represents a brand of his own. In a way, that’s what makes Youppi a great mascot—he really just is a mascot. But, Gritty’s more than just a mascot, he’s Gritty! He does his own thing, and that’s where his appeal lies—as an outlier. 

We see this in that he has his own Twitter account, all to himself. I tried to find Youppi’s Twitter, but unsurprisingly, he doesn’t have one. While Gritty has been posting videos of himself shredding up the sweet Colorado snow, the Montreal Canadiens’ posted a video of Youppi in a HelloFresh ad—use code “GOHABSGO80” for $80 off your first order, not sponsored. 

I think the Twitter aspect of it all fits in with Gritty’s youthful persona, while Youppi is much older and likely has a harder time navigating the internet. But, I’m sure if he asked one of the younger Habs’ players—like Suzuki, Romanov, Evans, or Mete—they could definitely set up an account for him. Even if he only posts en français, that’s what Google Translate is for, and I guess a decade in the Quebec education system. 

Speaking of, my earliest memory of our orange mascot is from when I was in elementary school—Youppi came to visit during one of our assemblies. I still remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this is so much better than being in French class.” I feel like if Gritty were to ever get me out of class, he would burn down the school, and tweet a selfie of him amidst the flames with the caption, “@cold_bruh you owe me one.” So in retrospect, Youppi giving me a high-five in the hallway was pretty cool. 

He had my back then, and I'm going to have his back now. If home is where the heart is, then mine belongs to Youppi. Sorry Gritty, it just wasn’t meant to be.