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The legendary racehorse, Man o’ War, won every race he ever ran—except one. A rival horse beat the champion thoroughbred on August 13, 1919. The winning horse’s name: “Upset”.
The study of etymology is a fascinating one, especially when it comes to the variations of surnames which permeate the English language.
No fooling! There really is a realtor named Sandi Lott. There actually is a dentist the sign on whose door reads: Dr. Les Plack. Would you believe a mortician named Dye; and a dietician called Hunger. There is a Dr. Stone, who is geologist; a civil servant in Ottawa, working in the Agricultural and Food Department, Mr. Butter.
A lady once wrote to “Dear Abby” who bought a used car from a salesman whose handle was Swindle, and insured it with the Bill Crook Insurance Agency. How would you like to be diagnosed by Dr. D’eath; fly on a plane where Ron Muddle was the air traffic controller; or deposit your savings in a bank where the teller was Mr. Million? Then there was a French soccer goalkeeper whose name was Dominique Dropsy.
A quick run through Ontario’s on-line 411 reveals that there are 28 people in Ontario alone with the last name, “Hockey”. There used to be a Mrs. Puck who lived in Toronto, who refused to enter into a discussion about the roots of her unusual European cognomen. As well there is a GTA gentleman whose birth certificate reads “Jeremy Stick”. In an earlier column we looked at a cross section of men who carried the burden of carrying the handle of Stanley Cupp.
But when we get right down to ice level, when one considers the total number of pucksters who have laced on the blades in the NHL in 98 years, it will be no surprise to find countless unusual names listed on rosters of both current and defunct teams.
Equivocation is almost the same as a pun—but not quite so direct—requiring less imagination.
For instance, in the 1930’s when Eddie Shore was shining brightly for the Bruins, the Rangers’ Lester Patrick attempted to swap a run-of-the-mill forward, Myles Lane, even-up for the legendary rearguard. His old friend, Art Ross, Manager of the Beantown Six, sent this blunt and to-the-point answer: “You’re so far from Shore, Lester, you need a life preserver!”
There a good many monikers which seem to beg equivocation. One of the most blatant examples was nevertheless customer made. Back in January 1944, the Ranger’s Lester Patrick took Bob “Killer” Dill in a deal with the Buffalo Bisons. The headline included: “Rangers get Dill hoping to get (him) out of a pickle”. Not long before, the would-be hockey fight icon was suspended by the AHL for slugging a league referee. The caption of an accompanying photo was: “Dill that’s always in a pickle!”
Not long after his trade to Broadway he decided to give “Rocket” Richard boxing lessons—and was promptly thrashed three times during one confrontation. That night he really was pickled—with the vinegar totally extracted.
Back in the 1950’s, writers pounced on the nickname of Detroit’s Production (forward) Line with the exclamation, “Lindsay is Abel, and Howe!”
Much more recently, the Edmonton Journal reported on October 7, 2000: “The Edmonton Oilers recalled defenseman Chris Hajt (Hite) from the minors. Since they already had Doug Weight, now they have Hajt and Weight”
Another journalist dropped this casual suggestion: “Would it not be appropriate if Miroslav Satan were playing for the New Jersey Devils?” (and wearing number 666)
It may have been Steve Simmons who quipped: “I can’t wait to see Jordin Tootoo battle Tuomo Ruutu in the corners!”
When defenseman Jeff Finger joined the Maple Leafs in the fall of 2008, he started the season in sick bay—recovering from a broken foot. Some witty shinny scribe contemplated how ironical it would be if Adam Foote suffered a broken finger.
On the front page of the December 14, 2014 Toronto Sun sports section, in bold letters this headline stood out: “PANIK ATTACK”. The evening before the Maple Leafs had defeated the Red Wings 4-1, with Richard Panik playing the lead role. He had a goal, was plus one, and had an all-round great game.
A promising prospect by the name of Morris Titanic joined the Buffalo Sabres as a rookie in the fall of 1974. He played only 17 games. Back problems limited his action the next campaign to just two contests. A spinal fusion operation finished his NHL career. A mischievous journalist commented “Titanic is sunk!” The Hockey News’ Brian Costello, picking up on the obvious pun, wrote: “His statistical line looks like a bunch of icebergs bobbing side by side in the Atlantic Ocean: zero goals, zero assists, zero penalty minutes” A wrecked knee in the minors wrote “finis” over his hockey career.
On a couple of occasions the Hockey News entered the full-fledged pun game in features under the heading “Lists”. They projected several “teams”, the members of which bore monikers custom-made for equivocation:
**The All-Occupation Team: Bobby Carpenter; Lyndon Byers; Garth Butcher; Murray Baron; Tom Draper. Readily added to that squad could have been Bill Barber; Herb Gardiner; Darnell Nurse; Mike Fidler; Bobby Taylor; Kelly Miller; Paul Ranger; Corey Potter; Mike Weaver; Ben Bishop; Steve Mason; Bill Cook; Greg Sheppard; Carl Brewer; Carter Bancks; and Dunc Fisher.
(That can be stretched to the simile of “career”, which would include Gil Mayer; Dwight King; and Corban Knight)
**The All-Nutrition Team: Adam Oates; Steven Rice; Jari Kurri; Par Djos; Brad Berry; Jim Korn; Bill Butters; and Mike Kitchen.
**The All-Colour Team: Bill White; James Black; Travis Green; Jeff Brown; Bryan Rust; Ken Paynter; John Blue; Glenn Goldup; Brian Lavender; Skip Teal; and Gerry Gray.
Compilations such as that prompt inspiration to add still further categories—like:
**The Bird Line: Phil Crowe; Mike Eagles; Bob Jay; Red Heron; Nathan Perrott; ROBYN Regehr; Bob Wren; and Spunk Sparrow.
**The Hot Stove Trio: Dan Boyle; Matt Cooke; and Charlie Simmer.
**The Animal Aggregation: Peter Lappin (Rabbit); Bernie Wolfe; Jay Beagle; Cody Bass; Mike
Mole (Jr.) (AHL); Joe Lamb; Robin Big Snake (AHL); Bruce Bullock; Greg Fox; and Joel Vermin (AHL);
**The Nightmare Line: Claudio Scremin; Steve Kasper (the friendly ghost); and Jim Boo!
Or, how about:
**The Demeanor Designation: Kevin Devine; Howie Meeker; Ted Bulley; Jesper Fast; Ben Eager; Jim Playfair; Kelly Chase; Johnny Harms; Gerard Gallant; Alex Tidey; Stephane Yelle; Darryl Sly; Lindy Ruff; Brandon Saad; Michael Funk; Archie Wilder; Jason Woolley; Greg Joly; Stan Smrke; Eric Staal; Owen Fussey; Jamie Pushor; Tyler Stark (EmJHL); and Stanislav Chistov (pronounced Cheezed-off).
**The All-Spice Set: HERB Brooks; BASIL McCrea; Bob DILL; Bill ROOT; Floyd CURRY; Gary SAGE (OPJAHL); and Ryan PEPPERall (AHL).
**The Auto Assembly: Lorne Carr; Brian Ford; Brad Maxwell; Ronnie Hudson; Vern Kaiser; Curt Fraser; Darcy Tucker; Calum MacKay; Cam Russell; Michael Colman; and Brett Sterling. (younger readers may not easily identify with antique cars)
**The Retail Roster: Jamie Storr (wearing number 7-11); Terry Ball; Brad Bombardir; Bob Champoux; Bob Chrystal; Wayne Doll (EHL); Blake Dunlop; Link Gaetz; Steve Heinze; Ryan Kraft; Mark Kirton; Jim Kyte; Dave Kryskow; Dave Inkpen (WHA); Eddie Wares; Steve Shields; Tanner Glass; and Don Lever.
**The Weather Watch: Ray Clearwater (WHA); Frank McCOOL; Chuck RAYNer; Garth Snow; Frank Spring; Jim Storm; Cyclone Taylor (NHA, PCHA); Mike Bloom; Harry Frost; Mark Flood; Colin Greening; and Art Somers.
Some handles seem to be joined naturally at the hip with the ice game. From Brandon, Manitoba there came a lad by the name of Lude Check. His moniker elicited many a tongue-in-cheek witticisms. For instance did he make off-colour remarks or stick his tongue out at opponents when he bodied them? Then there was Murray Wing who didn’t patrol either the left or right flank on the forward line—he was a defenseman. Hank Blade shares notoriety with a couple of members of the NHL’s 228th Battalion. He was a replacement on the Pettawawa Military team in 1941—was never actually enlisted. He lasted only 24 games with the Blackhawks. One can only hope that he had a straight, not warped approach to the game. (Two thirds of a PUN—PU) Jim Hatrick never made it to the big time—but he certainly made the headlines interesting wherever he played, with a handle like that.
No goalie ever had a more appropriate ID that Kelly Guard, an Ottawa chattel who guarded the twine for the farm team, the Binghamton Senators. On the flip side there was a Junior player from B.C. named Paul Scorer.
Such tomfoolery is not new as a way of adding a little levity to an otherwise stressful business. Back in 1929, when Pittsburgh’s original entry into the NHL, the Pirates, were struggling to survive, tempers were short in response to constantly losing. One night the Bruins were wiping the ice with these perpetual doormats, 7-0. That was insult enough, but when the Hub’s George Owen spilled (Hib) Milks heavily into the boards, it soured the mood, and a brawl ensued. The rest of the players from both teams poured over the boards—with the result that everything got bottled up on the ice.
Some player’s names (both active and retired) may just give a hint as to their hockey abilities. Ron Handy sounds like a promising guy to have around; Larry (whose nick name is “Izzy”) Goodenough should make the cuts; Jack Skille would quality by a country mile; and it’s hard to imagine Dwayne Zinger’s shot as anything but devastating. Goalie Jonathan Quick has reflexes like a cat; and during his day Chris was OsGood as any between the pipes. Dave used to get his job Dunn; centre Billy was always a Reay of hope even in when the (Neil) Strain had the Habs’ backs to the Bob Wall. Any danger of losing was practically (Jim) Nill when Steve (WHA) was ready to make Warr on the ice. Because when you have such a (Paul) Goodman involved, there’s not much of a (Dick) Gamble at being (Mike) Wong, or just (Troy, OHL) Hazzarding a guess.
Once in a while, names give us a peek behind the scenes. A new (Tony) Twist to things happened when Jack (USHL) would have none of this playoff beard stuff, and determined to Shave. It wasn’t such a (Pierre, AHL) Brillant idea, since he cut himself, causing him a lot of (Steve) Payne, and prompting him to let out a (Rob) Whistle, and to (Tony) Curtale the whole operation.
There will be a collective sigh of relief to read that this hokey spoof is near an end. But first there are a few QUIPS and QUERIES which need attention:
**After spending 47 minutes in the sin bin, it’s no surprise to learn of this New Year’s resolution: “Fewer infractions for 1932-33”, promises Vic Ripley—believe it or not.
**His real surname was Wychnenka; but he borrowed his mother’s maiden name when he got involved in hockey, because it was easier to spell. In short order the 5’ 4’’ rearguard was tagged “Rock-A-Bye”. But do you suppose he regretted that change even more when his AHL teammates put the wrong inflexion on “Hey! (Walter) Babey!”
**Do you know that most important step when one is about to start his car or truck? Make sure you have the (Dave) Keon! If you do, it will ignite right off with a (Daniel) Bång!
**Leaving the (Cal, IHL) Roadhouse, the lonely puckster headed for the (Jamie) Storr, taking a detour through the (Mike) Eastwood, checking his wallet to see if he could afford the (Radoslav) Suchy which was on special. But his plans went (Michael) Chaput… he was stopped at the door by the manager….he neglected to (Jean, WHA) Payette.
**He was solid between the pipes for Vancouver, so much so that even though Ryan Miller was announced fit for game one of the 2015 playoffs between the Canucks and the Flames, Willie Desjardins didn’t hesitate to choose him. But they still traded him to Carolina. What did Eddie Lack?
**If the Blackhawk’s bench boss Joel Quenneville should find it necessary to yank his sophomore goalie, will be announce: “I’m sorry I have to replace you, (Scott) Darling!”?
**We’ve saved the best until last. When the New York Rangers traded this defenseman to the Bruins in 1949, the reason they gave for the deal was a rather strange one. They said they already had “Eenie, Meenie, and Minie—and they didn’t want no (Bill) Moe!”
I know! That did it! Some have already decided: “I haven’t seen that much corn since I worked on my Grandfather’s farm when I was a teenager. Right here and now I determine never again to read another Glen Goodhand column!” ODUYA?
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