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For instance, when we talk about a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins and we want to refer to a player of that team, do we say "the Penguin" or "the Penguins"?

He should have smashed that Penguin onto the boards.

I am thinking it's Penguin, but I am not sure what the particular grammar rule we need to apply here.

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That is possible but odd. Certainly it could be used with some American football or ice hockey teams, which often have names that allow for a singular to mean "one of the players"

New signing Ryan Martindale hopes to be on a flight to England tomorrow and says he is “Excited to be a Steeler”.

Equally it couldn't be used of association football teams like "Manchester United". Not even when the team has nickname like "Spurs", you couldn't call one of the players "a spur".

In cases like your example, it might have been better to use the particular player's name:

He should have smashed Martindale onto the boards!

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    What would be the most common way to refer to a player of a team such as the Pittsburgh Penguins? A Penguins player?
    – user3395
    Jan 5, 2020 at 1:33
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I'm not sure but I think when you call a player as Penguin instead of Penguins' player it looks like the player is a fan of the club too.

E.g. ,"The Spur to the Spurs"

I found that example about Tottenham Hotspur but I don't know if its formal or not and I'm sure it depends of the country,the type of sport,and so on...The culture of the place above all.

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