Boston Bruins: How Did They Get Their Name?

Have you brushed up on your medieval European children’s fables?

What is a Bruin exactly?  We all know it’s a bear, but how did the Boston chapter of the Original Six get it’s nickname?

Most fans of the Brown and Yellow now Black and Gold may not even know the origins of their favorite hockey team. This is where we come in. Sit back, relax and take a ride in the BST&N time machine.

The year was 1924 and soon to be founder of the Boston Bruins, Charles F. Adams just returned from Montreal for the Cup finals between Calgary and the Canadiens. Adams knew that the States and especially Boston needed to have a professional hockey team sooner than later.

Adams, a native of Vermont and successful Boston area business man, worked for the New England Maple Syrup Company, a brokerage/banking firm and then John T. Connor Company.  At John T. Connor, Charles Adams rose through the ranks and became president of the country’s first retail supermarket chain named Finast (First National Stores, Inc.).

Adams was always a sports fan. He had owned the Suffolk Downs horse track and Boston’s “other” baseball team, the Braves. He had the desire, passion for sport and financial backing to bring a NHL franchise to the Commonwealth.

Adams purchased franchise rights from Thomas Duggan, who was awarded two teams in February 1924.  The asking price was $15,000. Charles Adams put in his application and the NHL awarded him the franchise in November 1924.


Now what to call his new team?

The Bruins’ adopted the same color scheme as Adams’ supermarket chain, Finast.

With the help of newly hired general manager, Art Ross, the front office chose the old English term for brown bear, bruin.

The term bruin originated from the mideval European children’s fable entitled, History of Reynard the Fox.


The name stuck.  Bruin encapsulated exactly what owner,  Charles Adams wanted to identify his franchise with which was an untamed animal displaying speed, agility, power & cunning.

Ironically enough, the colors of the team were already chosen before the name was. Adams wanted the team colors to be brown and yellow after his store chain’s color scheme. The brown bear aka Bruin met “corporate standards”.

Rumor has it that Adams loved brown so much that all of his horses, cows, pigs, and hens were the color brown.

The team would keep their original color scheme until the ’38-’39 season. The Bruins would then adopt the franchise’s current colors, black, white and gold. During the ’48-’49 season, the team went to the “Spoked B” logo on it’s uniform and which was tweaked a bit the following year. The logo went virtually unchanged until the ’93-’94 season.


So that’s how the Bruins got their name, oddly enough, from an old medieval European children’s fable.

But now the team’s colors of Black and Gold don’t fit their name, but that’s a debate for another day.

 

Matt Kalman’s  book, 100 Things Bruins Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die was used to research this article.

 

29 comments

  • Awesome article! Learned a lot.

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  • I think bruins is somewhere connected to Holland. In dutch bruin means brown. For kids here we have Bruintje Beer (= little brouwn bear). In german brown = braun, in french it is brun.

  • Yes, Martin. The fable 'Van den Vos Reynaarde' is a Dutch animal-peom. The bear was brown, hence his name Bruin.

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  • Yea bruins suck alright! You queers got your name from an old English fairy tale LMFAO!!! Eli sure put brady in his place too HAHAHA

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  • The Greatest…The uttermost Grrrreatest Hockey Franchise on the Ice !! Bostons 'Black,white and Gold at the T.D. Garden The BRUINS !

  • Great informative story…The colors may not reflect that of a Bruin….but, the B's are a team that can sting when we bite…So not only do I love the bear, I love my B'eeesssss.

  • The book, “We Love You Bruins”, written by John Devaney, provides an outline of the rise of the Bruins at the hands of Adams.

    According to Devaney’s book, Adams solicited the help of hockey fans and reporters to help name the team. A secretary at one of Ross’s stores is credited with selecting the name “Bruins”.

    • As I recall that is correct. There was a contest, fans were invited through the newspapers to submit ideas, within the parameters of the brown-and-yellow, and the bear won Adams' approval.

      And now, even though the colors are black-and-gold, it still works; the bears that are native to New England are black bears. . . .

  • Unless a Bruin can fly, they wont catch a Blackhawk

    • Don'tPokeTheBear

      The Blackhawks were named for a Native American chief, not a bird. Sorry…DON'T POKE THE BEAR>

      • Just so you know...

        Actually they were named after a WWI Infantry unit. Since the unit was named after the famous chief, you may consider the Blackhawks indirectly named after him, but the main idea was to pay tribute to the Military unit.

        Still… not sure if they had any aerial combat capabilities sooo… Sammy may still be incorrect.

  • I enjoyed this article and learning more of the history, but since my husband is cheering for the Bruins because of Tuukka Rask (hubbys Finnish), I therefore am going Blackhawks!

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