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Above the Glass

What’s in a name? Hockey’s future

So, I waited in vain on deadline day for THE trade. The one that would make my neck hairs stand on end, and prompt me to stand up in the middle of a death by powerpoint meeting that was one hour too long (where I was also multi-tasking on the Crackberry so as not to miss a single minute of this epic event) and declare “That’s it! That’s the one! That’s a Stanley Cup winner, for sure!” Alas, it never came. No Brad Richards waiving his no movement clause. No purging of salary cap talent in Pittsburgh. Nothing. Not even a kibble. Still, since the NHL did go to all the trouble of changing their rosters to make the push to the playoffs, perhaps now would be good time to reflect on the following: does having a roster full of hockey names up your chances of winning the Stanley Cup?

The names to which I refer include but are not limited to: Aaron, Brett, Brent, Brayden/Braydon, Brandon(en), Brenden(an), Brody/Brodie, Brooks, Chase, Cody, Colton, Dylan, Evgeni(y), Johan, Jonas, Jordan/Jordon, Kyle, Landon, Magnus, Marc-Andre, Nic(k)las, Maxime, Riley/Ryley, Ryan/Ryon, Spencer, Stephane, Taylor/Tayler, Ty, Tyler.

In case you don’t have one of these first names, you can always default to these last names: Backstrom, Bergeron, Boychuk, Hull, Kane, Messier, Orr, Schenn, Sutter and Staal.

And if you have both these names, may I suggest you heed the following advice: Put the non-hockey hobbies down and walk away. Your parents already sealed your fate. Give in.

After all, why settle for one hockey name when you can have two?: Here in Portland my pick for best hockey names go to Tayler Jordan (invited to the Vancouver Canucks’ training camp last summer) and Riley Boychuk (one of 10 draftees on the Portland Winterhawks’ current roster, chosen 208th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2010 Entry Draft. A quiet player whose frequency is getting louder. Tune in.) 

First prize for the most French name in the league: Or anywhere, for that matter. Edmonton Oilers’ left wing Jean-Francois Jacques. Top that. I dare you.

Player who should probably change his last name before he gets to the NHL: Vancouver Canucks’ prospect Eddie Lack. I would not want to be him on a bad night. Now mind, he’s Swedish, so the proper pronunciation is probably not the same as English, but still…if I were him, I’d make up a stage name. Like shutout.

It works for the major junior leagues: The Portland Winterhawks roster boasts a Brett, a Brendan, one Riley (and one in the hopper), a Ryan (Johansen), a Tyler (Wotherspoon), a Ty (Rattie) and three Taylor(er)s (Jordan, Aronson, Peters). All of whom were either drafted or given invites to NHL training camps in the past two years or who are on the 2011 Entry Draft prospects-to-watch lists.  The Winterhawks are number one in the WHL’s U.S. Division and number one in the Western Conference. They have clinched a playoff berth. Coincidence? I think not.

So it should work for the NHL: Let’s look at past and present Stanley Cup winners with hockey names on their rosters:

Chicago Blackhawks: Jordan, Ryan, Kane and Niklas.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Brooks, Marc-Andre, Maxime, Evgeni, Jordan Staal, Tyler.

Detroit Red Wings: Niklas.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Ryan, Marc-Andre Bergeron

Toronto Maple Leafs: Ok it’s the distant past, but check this out: Tyler, Colton Orr, Jonas, Schenn and Brent.

Florida Panthers: No, I know they don’t have a cup, but they were one of the busier teams before deadline day so they get honorable mention: Niclas, Evgeny, Ryan.

Anaheim Ducks: Ryan, Jonas, Brandon.

Note: Anyone with two hockey names in one (e.g. Jordan Staal) technically counts as two names.  It’s only fair.

Using this highly scientific system, we can predict the following:

—Detroit will be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. They have one hockey name on their roster, and they’ve either lost the the Cup or been eliminated the last two years. Coincidence? Definitely not.

—Pittsburgh will make it all the way to the Stanley Cup semi-finals, at a minimum. They have the names, they just need to the motivation. I know they can do it.

—Florida and Anaheim will make a noble but futile effort to capture Stanley Cup glory before being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs after realizing that the whole point of playing hockey in a sunny state isn’t to bust your dislocated shoulder lifting shiny objects all summer, it’s to sit on a beach sipping beverages out of an empty pineapple.

Moral of the story/back to the future: The teams who got a gaggle of draft picks in trade for their players are looking pretty smart right about now. Among the future hockey names hiding in the WHL, the QMJHL and the whatever HL: Steele Boomer, Wheaton King (no longer on the Brandon Wheat Kings roster in a clear failure by the team to recognize a prime marketing opportunity), Steen Cooper, Ryan Johansen, Nino Niederreiter, Ty Rattie, Sven Bartschi, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Aronson, Brett Ponich, Tyler Wotherspoon, Brayden Schenn, Brett Connolly and Boone Jenner. If your fantasy roster is a little low on these names, fear not. Make note and plan ahead for the 2011 Entry Draft.  After all, there’s a lot in a name: like hockey’s future.

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—Detroit will be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. They have one hockey name on their roster, and they’ve either lost the the Cup or been eliminated the last two years. Coincidence? Definitely not.

Detroit has Niklas and Johan.

Posted by Dahrken from Grand Rapids, MI on 03/01/11 at 02:15 PM ET


Also, a belated welcome Samantha, I haven’t been around for the past few days.

Posted by Dahrken from Grand Rapids, MI on 03/01/11 at 02:25 PM ET


Thanks for the reminder and the welcome. I had a feeling I might have forgotten one in there. And since they do have the “two-name minimum,” I feel compelled to change my prediction to being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. My method isn’t rocket science, but I do try to be fair grin.

Posted by Samantha from Portland, Oregon on 03/01/11 at 05:03 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

Detroit has Niklas, Nicklas, and Johan.  That’s three.

They also have arguably the best name in hockey, Ruslan Salei.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 03/01/11 at 05:37 PM ET


I can see I need a spreadsheet for my name prediction system. And I clearly need to tune back into Detroit’s frequency.  Thanks for helping me keep track.

Posted by Samantha from Portland, Oregon on 03/01/11 at 05:50 PM ET

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com