CHICAGO — The best names in the NHL are the ones that never make the roster.
Or get used by Mom.
Tazer. Little Ball of Hate. The Great One. Sid the Kid. Looch (who also goes by Gino). The Bulin Wall. Kells.
"There's always someone, or a few guys, that want to call you different things," said Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad, dubbed "The ManChild" by his teammates. "I guess it's just part of the camaraderie of the sport and the guys being close. I'm not really sure of the exact science."
Anyone who has ever played a sport knows that nicknames are part of the game, a byproduct of both competition and camaraderie. But hockey players have taken it to an art form.
From the littlest mite to the NHL's biggest stars, everyone's got a moniker — and usually more than one. Most are simplistic, involving the addition or subtraction of a letter or two. Shorten a last name, tack on an 's' or a 'y' ('ie' also works) and, voila! Instant nickname. Patrice Bergeron becomes "Bergy." Brent Seabrook is "Seabs" or "Seabsy."
If a player's last name only has one syllable, just add an 'r' or a 'y' (the 'ie' rule applies here, as well). Patrick Kane is now forever known as "Kaner," while Patrick Sharp, his occasional partner on Chicago's second line, is "Sharpie."
And anyone whose last name is Campbell is automatically "Soup" or "Soupy."
"Pretty boring," said Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly, who is known as, you guessed it, "Kells." ''I wish we came up with cooler nicknames."
But the beauty of the simplicity is in its versatility. It can be applied to almost any name, regardless of nationality.
Jaromir Jagr? Jags. Alex Ovechkin? Ovie. Marty Turco? Turks.
It even works with Bruins left wing Kaspars Daugavins.
"We call him Doggie," Kelly said.
But just as there are exceptions to every grammatical rule, there are some names that defy the conventions of hockey nicknamification. Or lend themselves to some added creativity.
Blackhawks right wing Jamal Mayers is "Jammer" — not to be confused with Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who is "Hammer." Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is "The Bulin Wall." Henrik Lundqvist, he of the 2012 Vezina Trophy, seven straight 30-win seasons and Olympic gold medal in 2006, is, simply, King Henrik.
Other monikers come about because of something a player does on the ice.
Hall of Famer Max Bentley was known as the "Dipsy Doodle Dandy from Delisle" because of his silky-smooth style of evading opponents. Steve Yzerman thought Johan Franzen looked like "a mule" whizzing around the ice as a rookie back in 2005. The nickname stuck. Phoenix enforcer Paul Bissonnette is "BizNasty."
And some nicknames just happen.
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