Boston Bruins: How Did This Original 6 Hockey Team Get Its Nickname?

Joe GillCorrespondent IIApril 3, 2011

How did the Bruins get their name?
How did the Bruins get their name?

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

Most fans of the brown and yellow, now black and gold, may not even know the origins of their favorite hockey time. 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, 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, Finast. Finast stands for 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 an 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 came the big decision, what to name the team?

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 medieval 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, an untamed animal displaying speed, agility, power and 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, fit perfectly.

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 the uniform and 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 English children’s fable.  

However, 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 Before They Die was used to research this article.