Is Carlton the Bear Cutting It as the Toronto Maple Leafs Mascot?

Toronto Maple Leafs -Carlton the Bear (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs -Carlton the Bear (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs mascot Carlton the Bear has had it too good for too long. It’s time for the mascot to step up the game.

There are many great mascots in the world of sports. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment have three prominent ones. The Raptor represents the Toronto Raptors, Duke the Dog cheers on the Toronto Marlies and the Toronto Maple Leafs have Carlton the Bear.

Toronto’s most storied franchise, the Toronto Maple Leafs deserves the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Carlton, I’m calling you out.

Battle of the Mascots

Let’s begin with the most perplexing part of Carlton’s existence. It’s the odd feature the bear was given, the wrong paws. The mascot has four “toes” on each of its forepaws.

It seems unnecessary or just poor design since both humans and polar bears have five phalanges on each extremity. What happened to Carlton the bear? Was there some kind of run-in with a rival polar bear?

Without a doubt, the Raptor is the best mascot in the city of Toronto and not because of the number of fingers he has. The Raptor has demonstrated a propensity to entertain crowds using acrobatics, comedy, hijinx, and enthusiasm. That’s not the case with the anthropomorphic polar bear.

Carlton has been great at attending live events and hyping up a crowd by banging a drum or dancing. If that were all that was involved in being a quality mascot then there’d be no need for this article.

Even Duke the Dog has been more creative at the rink than Carlton. This gets demonstrated through the little routines performed at Coca-Cola Coliseum. One of which was the time Duke found himself a date for a game. These aren’t commonplace for Carlton.

The Raptor has set the bar in Toronto for this sort of fun at Scotiabank Arena.

The dino is often in the audience messing with visiting fans of other clubs.

When that’s not happening, the mascot is walking on its hands, running giant flags through the arena or performing for Raptors fans.

Some might argue that it’s unfair to compare Carlton to the Raptor. It may appear as though the bear doesn’t have the mobility to show off acrobatics or gymnastics. That’s simply untrue.

Despite the girth, Carlton has the ability to do flips when desired. It seems the mascot just doesn’t do them for live crowds.

The Raptor, on the other hand, is often showing off impressive moves.

This was done so often that it even led to a serious injury. In October of 2013, the mascot attempted a back handspring into a backflip but it didn’t land. The routine resulted in a torn Achilles that kept the Raptor out of action until March the following year.

While the Raptor was on the shelf, the basketball team replaced him with another mascot named Stripes, the Raptor’s cousin. Even Stripes, though his tenure was short, was a better mascot than Carlton.

Perhaps the best evidence is that that before even taking to the court for the first time, Stripes paused to throw a full cake into the face of a Boston Celtics fan. Maybe Stripes is available to bring to the hockey rink to really improve the entertainment after whistles during Leafs games.

As mentioned, Carlton does have some positive traits. Clad in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, the bear may be the cuddliest looking mascot in the NHL. That’s in stark contrast to Gritty in Philadelphia who may have been born out of a child’s nightmare.

Carlton has also done a series of scare pranks that are amusing to watch. The purpose is always the same, to get an unsuspecting victim to wet themselves in fear.

As much fun as it is to see the players jump, the best scare prank probably belongs to NJ Devil, the not so cleverly named mascot of the New Jersey Devils. When the staff at the Prudential Center arrived by elevator to their desired floor, NJ Devil was waiting for them.

The solution for Carlton is to take more risks.

Go ahead and borrow the tried and true method of dumping popcorn on fans but add a little flair. Look to others for ideas.

Early in March the Los Angeles Kings mascot, Bailey, waved cutouts of David Ayers and a Zamboni behind the Toronto Maple Leafs bench. This is the same lion who once tackled the San Jose Sharks mascot so badly that its head detached.

Next. Leafs Dipping Into the KHL Rumour. dark

Toronto Maple Leafs fans deserve more out of their mascot. If it means that the bear needs to develop an edge, then maybe it’s time. Step up your game Carlton.