In honor of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals being virtually upon us (and in the hopes of that being any sort of jinx to the Canucks), I asked the crew for nominations of their favorite Hockey Names. I intended it to be hockey players, of course, but wadE took it in a different direction (which I also liked). Read on after the jump:
There is, er, was no better name in professional hockey than the Quebec Nordiques. French for \”Northmen\”, only Quebec could have a team with a French word as it\’s team name. A perennial loser when they joined the NHL in 1979, courtesy of dispersal draft, they won the lottery in 1991 when they had the first pick in the draft and Eric Lindros was the consensus best player since Gretzky. Lindros refused to play for them, and the Nordiques were forced to trade him to the Flyers, who gave the Nordiques all the player they needed go on a 10 year run (culminating with a Stanley Cup win after a move to Denver and a change to the \”Avalanche\”). The Nordiques also had quite possibly the best (and by best, I mean worst) logo in sports history. http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/logos/logos.php?s=1992&t=47&sf Easily the best name (and logo) in the NHL.
[Ed: When apprised of the fact that I meant players, he then called dibs on Ron Tugnutt.]
This ended up being more challenging than I\’d expected, and not just in getting the spelling correct. So many wonderful names in hockey history: Guy Lafleur, Darius Kasparaitus, Haakan Loob … Mike Krushelnyski, Ruslan Fedotenko, even Jarkko Ruutu. But I gotta go with Esa Tikkanen, the only man in the league to have inspired his own language, Tikkanese! From wikipedia:
Tikkanen is famous for his Finnish-English, sometimes referred to as \”Tikkanese\” or \”Tiki-Talk.\” Even members of his team often did not understand what he was saying. Wayne Gretzky once commented, \”He brings something special. I don\’t know what it is, but if you ask him, you couldn\’t understand his answer.\” Former Edmonton Oiler coach and teammate Craig MacTavish said, \”Esa talks twice as much as anybody else. That\’s because you can understand just half what he says.\”
Even fellow Finn Jari Kurri was not immune from the confusing language. During their tenure with the Oilers, Tikkanen let go with a particularly colorful pronouncement, after which another player turned to Kurri and asked, \”What did he just say?\” Kurri simply shook his head; \”I have no idea.\”
I\’ve also heard Tikkanese described as \”half Finnish, half grunt\”. There\’s also this, from the excellent euolgy of Pat Burns, written by Bob McKenzie:
…we were listening to a clip from then New York Ranger Esa Tikkanen, who was talking \”Tikkanese\” as only Esa could. We weren\’t really sure what Tikkanen was saying because the words were all running together and Burnsie thought it was the funniest things he had ever heard. The only distinguishable things that came out of the interview for us were Joe Mansbreek and Gullen Gumble.
Burns said to me, \”Who the (expletive) are Joe Mansbreek and Gullen Gumble?\”
Having heard Tikkanese before, Hodge and I translated. \”(Ranger goalie) John Vanbiesbrouck and (Ranger coach) Colin Campbell,\” we told him.
P.S. Team-wise, I\’ll always have a soft spot for the North Stars logo.
Best hockey name, team edition: Philadelphia Quakers. The Quakers became the new name of the Pittsburgh Pirates (yup, we\’re still talking hockey), after the team moved from Pittsburgh in 1930. Because of financial reasons, the team folded after one season. This probably wasn\’t the worst thing in the world, as they finished with a record of 4-36-4, a mere 50 points behind the American Division-leading Boston Bruins in the standings. I just think it\’s funny thinking about someone like this skating towards you:
Best hockey name, individual: Bill Houlder, 1987-2003 (various teams). Bill was a defenseman for the Buffalo Sabres during the \’93/\’94 season, which is really the last year I knew who played on which team. (Thank you, SNES NHL \’94.) (\”It\’s in the game.\”) Anyway, the only reason I picked him is because he spawned perhaps the wittiest nickname our little group has ever come up with: The Wallet.