In the NHL today, a full 10% of teams have wings making up part of their crest: the Blues, Flyers (unsurprising) and Red Wings (duh). You could argue the Jets do as well, but that's not really what I'm going for here. Notice that we have one team that dates back to 1932 (before that year the Red Wings were known as the Cougars, and then the Falcons), and two from the Great Expansion in 1967. None of the new-fangled teams have wings as part of their team identity, but in fact wings, as a part of hockey crests, go back a very long way.
The wings in Detroit's emblem are no coincidence, and actually hearken back to the first winged team in hockey: the Montreal AAA, also known as the Winged Wheelers, who we've discussed here often. Jim Norris played with the AAA in his younger days, so when he purchased the Detroit franchise he named them after his old team. The Winged Wheeler sweaters looked something like this:
But it wasn't just this team. It seems there are two things ubiquitous in hockey in the early years: teams named after Queen Victoria, and teams with wings in their crests. Here's another selection in black and white, including a lesser-known Ottawa club, an American team from the original IHL, and a senior side from my hometown:
And some more, with another team from my neck of the woods, and two from British Columbia, just to show the wings weren't restricted to the east:
There's a special subcategory that I wanted to touch on as well. A number of teams used the winged foot, referencing Hermes, the Greek god of messengers, as their symbol. Presumably it conveyed speed, as it remains a favourite of some runners even today. Two clubs that used the winged foot are the Montreal Shamrocks, of Canada' highest senior leagues, and the New York Athletic Club, also known as the Winged Footers, of the American Amateur Hockey League:
Some teams seem to have reasoned, however, that while speed is an excellent image to convey to your fans and your opponents, a winged foot has little to do with hockey. So why not a winged skate? It does make much more sense that way. Note that the skates in these crests, while appearing unfamiliar today, were state of the art at the time:
You may have guessed by now that I've turned into something of a hockey sweater nerd. It doesn't really have anything to do with the analysis of hockey history, but when you visit a free blog you often get what you pay for. I'll try to keep the sweater images to a minimum in future, unless you want more. Actually, on second thought I make no promises about the frequency of future badly-drawn hockey sweater facsimiles. Also, I don't need your approval. My blog, my rules, chum.