On the Prowl: A “Conversation” with the Oilers’ Mascot
From his first furry foray out of the river valley, to his emergence from his secret den under Rogers Place, Hunter has led quite the lynx life. We talked to him about becoming the Oilers' biggest fan, his workout regimen and what appears to be his darkest fear.
By Cory Schachtel | February 7, 2022
Hi Hunter. Thanks for sitting down with me today.
Hunter nods graciously.
My research says lynx are generally private, shy animals. Is that true?
Hunter hugs himself tight and covers his face, then peeks out over his paw.
So when you first left the river valley and revealed yourself as an anthropomorphic animal that can communicate non-verbally, were people scared?
Hunter shrugs, then extends his flattened paw and rotates it back and forth.
Were they worried you might attack?
Hunter shakes his head, then points to his jersey.
Yeah, Oiler fans generally don’t attack their own. Where’d you get your jersey, by the way?
Hunter raises one finger to his mouth and shakes his head.
Alright then, keep your secrets. I notice you are not wearing a mask, and it turns out lynx can get COVID. Are you vaccinated?
Hunter gives an enthusiastic two thumbs up.
So how did you get the job as the Oilers’ mascot?
Hunter gets up and struts around his chair, dabs twice, vogues, then puts one hind paw on his seat and crosses his arms. He looks confident and satisfied.
You are a pretty cool lynx, and definitely have the right attitude.
Hunter licks his paw then slicks back the fur on top of his head. At this point I accidentally drop a ball of yarn (knitting is my new pandemic hobby) and Hunter chases it for 45 minutes. He ends up tuckered out on his side near my feet, face on the floor, watching the last of the ball finally unspool just out of reach. I scratch his belly once, and he seems to enjoy it. I scratch again and he closes his eyes. When I scratch a third time, he snaps out of his lull and swats my wrist.
I look up, and Hunter’s back in his seat, legs crossed, chin resting on his paw. He leans forward, intently awaiting my next question.
(Wiping a thin blood streak and licking my finger) We’ve seen you in some pretty snazzy outfits over the years, including some that show off your abs. How do you stay in such good shape?
Hunter drops to the floor and does ten really fast sit ups, kicks up to his feet in a squat then raises his arms and flexes his biceps.
I guess even cats have to work out. In our upcoming March food issue, we have a story about the food in Rogers Place. Do you have a favourite arena snack?
Still in a squat-flex, Hunter somehow takes a full box of popcorn from behind his back and dumps it all over his face.
I thought you might prefer the sushi, but you can’t go wrong with popcorn. So the most popular NHL mascot is probably the Philadelphia Flyers’ Gritty…
Hunter drops the box and extends his arms, looking nervously side to side in a ready position.
No, he’s not here. I’m just wondering if you’ve met him.
Hunter sits down and nods.
Do you get along?
Hunter shakes his head.
Hunter points a finger to the side of his head and rotates it.
Oh, is he really crazy? I thought that was just an act for the fans.
Hunter shakes his head harder. Two fingers crazy.
How do you know? What have you seen him do?
Hunter folds his paws on his lap, sinks into his chair and stops moving. He looks down to his left and stares wide eyed through the floor, with an expression of someone who’s seen unspeakable, monstrous things — things that have made him reconsider the existential meaninglessness of existence, and contemplate the fleeting temporality of time. He’s a fractured feline, a carved-out Carnivora, lost in life’s absurd amalgamation of sorrow and joy over what he has seen — and will never unsee. I think I see a single tear run down into his plush fur, but it might just be the way the light hits his plastic eyes.
So uh, do you think the Oilers will make the playoffs?
Hunter leaps to his feet, tugs his Oilers crest with one paw and raises a number one with the other, then hops away down the Rogers Place concourse like he’s riding an imaginary horse.