AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Animal from "The Muppets," a "ZZ Top" beard - these are some of the ways that Philadelphia Flyers fans have described Gritty, their team's new fuzzy, orange mascot with googly eyes.
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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Tell everyone your name. Yeah, it's Gritty. Everybody say Gritty.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
The hockey team introduced Gritty to hundreds of students yesterday at Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum.
This was shortly before Gritty made his debut on the ice. He is the team's first mascot since 1976, and the flyers say they hope he will get younger fans excited about the team.
STEPHANIE FARR: The initial reaction from fans here in Philadelphia was one of horror.
CORNISH: That's culture writer Stephanie Farr of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
FARR: People were pretty taken aback by him, especially the eyes.
CORNISH: Gritty doesn't speak, but he did respond to the criticism through his handler, Andrea Helfrich. The pair went on "Good Morning America."
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ANDREA HELFRICH: Gritty's loving it. I think if he could talk, he would say bring it on, right? He would. He loves it. Bring it on. He eats his opponents for breakfast.
KELLY: Stephanie Farr says Gritty's shock factor suits his environment.
FARR: Going really weird and almost unsettling was better than going normal and boring. I think that the strangeness is more likely to grow on Philly fans than just keeping it safe.
KELLY: And Farr says Gritty is growing on Philly fans. The people were talking about him today in Philly and on social media.
FARR: We were already seeing memes with him. You know, he's replacing characters in horror movies or Jaws in "Jaws." I really like that people were having a lot of fun with this.
CORNISH: Though Farr says she doesn't think fans were demanding a new mascot.
FARR: You know what they'd rather have is Stanley Cup wins.
CORNISH: The Flyers were knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season by their rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. But you heard from at least a few fans who say maybe Gritty could be the one to turn it around. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.