Retro Relapse: The Modern Hockey Nickname

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

Hockey has been over for a little while now. Granted, for me, it was over when the Chicago Blackhawks lost in overtime of Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals to the Los Angeles Kings. I’m still pretty sour about it but I know that my team is a budding dynasty and will win several more, assuming they keep their core together over the next few seasons. But whatever, I miss hockey and can’t wait for October to roll around. In order to curb my impatience, I figured I’d write about hockey, even though it is the offseason.

There has been something going on in the modern era of hockey that I find somewhat annoying. It is the modern hockey nickname. Before I get into it though, let me run off some of the badass and creative hockey nicknames belonging to the legends of the past: Bones Bromley, Mario the Magnificent, The Hammer, Mister Zero, The Stratford Streak, Murder Murdoch, The Bulin Wall, The Boogey Man, The Finnish Flash, Mr. Hockey, Cobra, King Kong Korab, Cujo, The Messiah, Boom-Boom, The Puck Goes Inski, Battleship, The Eel, The Rocket, The Russian Rocket, The Pocket Rocket, The Roadrunner, Tiger, Chico, Bugsy, Grapes, Moose, The Rat, Cheesie, Cowboy, The Missing Link, The Flower, Ching, Gump, Jethro, Radar, The Algonquin Enforcer, Captain Crunch, Suitcase Smith, Apple Juice Mott, Le Gros Bill, Gratoony the Loony, The Dominator, The Entertainer, The Chicoutimi Cucumber, The Jet, The Golden Jet, The Golden Brett, Leapin’ Lou, The Big Whistle, Pie, Captain Video, The Eagle, Never Beaton/Seldom Beaton, Lucky Luc, Taz and so many others.

All those names are awesome. The names today are not. Well the vast majority of them anyway. Just on my Blackhawks, I see the nicknames given to these beasts and snipers on the ice and it makes me shake my head. I work in a creative field for a living and what I see here, from those who have coined these modern nicknames, is a severe lack of creativity. Also, they don’t sound menacing or awesome. Nowadays, hockey players are given nicknames that are just their real names simply modified, usually with an “er” or “y” added to it. On the Blackhawks we have Kaner, Toewser (Tazer), Sharpy, Smitty, Crow, Hoss, Duncs, Seabs, Leds, Saader, Shawzer and a few other uninspiring nicknames. Keep in mind this is just on one team. Granted there are still a handful of great nicknames but the rest of the league pretty much follows this lack of creativity.

I blame the announcers and the press. I mean, they’re the ones who usually manufacture the awesome names that we’ve called players since the beginning of time. Are these communications and journalism degree holders not taught creativity anymore? Or are the wrong types of people pursuing these careers. Now I am not knocking their play-by-play, announcing or writing abilities but c’mon, man!

It’s gotten to the point that when I see a new hockey star coming up, I can look at his real name and guess with about 100 percent accuracy what his nickname is going to be. Oh, his name is Doug Jones, how about Jonesy? This kid’s name is Gene Michaels, how about Genie? Hey, what about Drake Thomas, hmmmm… Draker or Tommy? These are all just made-up examples but regardless, this name game has gotten fucking stupid.

I guess some of the blame can be out on the drunken assholes on Twitter who lack the creativity to come up with cool shit. They just start playing the naming game by adding “er” and “y” to everyone with a hashtag and next thing you know, these stupid nicknames are trending. Everyone else in the Twitterverse jumps on the bandwagon and next thing you know, we’ve got another great warrior of the ice with a wimpy name he is certainly not worthy of.

Why can’t Patrick Kane be the Buffalo Soldier since he’s from Buffalo or just something else more creative than Kaner? Toews as Toewser (or Tazer) at least sounds somewhat cool but he could have something better than that too. But Shawzer for Andrew Shaw? C’mon, he deserves the name of a badass beast! Call him something tough like the Belleville Bruiser. And Patrick Sharp should be the Sharpshooter. Maybe some of these names have been used but you can always do variants like all the different “Rockets” and “Jets” that have been in the NHL throughout history.

It kind of mirrors professional wrestling where in the old days you had the Ultimate Warrior, Hercules, the Masked Assassin, the Outlaws, the Blackjacks, the Iron Sheik, Rowdy Roddy, Mr. Wonderful, the Junkyard Dog, Jake the Snake, the Undertaker, Cactus Jack, the Taskmaster, the Barbarian, the Warlord, the Legion of Doom and so many others. Today, wrestlers are named shit like John, Randy, Daniel, Heath, Justin, Evan, Seth, Zack, Jimmy, Dean, Dolph, Adam, Curtis, Bo, Bray, Eric and Luke. Granted all these guys could kick my ass but if someone said to me, “Hey would you rather fight Heath or the Masked Assassin?” Without knowing anything other than their names, I would pick Heath in a heartbeat.

Hockey is a tough as nails sport. It just doesn’t sound as tough today when you got guys nicknamed Seabs and Saader compared to the Cobras, Tigers, Murderers and Boogey Men of the past.

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