One of the biggest reasons hockey is the best sport are the names. With so many languages involved in hockey players’ names, no other sport can compete. What’s the best name in baseball? Gio Gonzalez? Really impressed there. If his name wasn’t “Gio”, he wouldn’t even have a chance. The second best name is probably Josh Hamilton or something, baseball names are laughably generic. Football doesn’t have anything great either. For every unknown named Chris Ogbonnaya, there’s twelve stars named Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. Bo-ring. Basketball has given hockey the best competition historically, with Dikembe Mutumbo, Hakeem Olajuwon, “Magic” Johnson. Hell, even Larry Bird is pretty awesome for a generic name. But with Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James? The names have really gone downhill since.
Not in hockey, though. Just looking at the top 25 in scoring, we see Claude Giroux, Joffrey Lupul, Jordan Eberle, Jason Pominville, Steven Stamkos, Tomas Fleischmann, Teemu Selanne, Johan Franzen, Evgeni Malkin, Anze Kopitar, Jason Spezza, and Pavel Datsyuk.
How ’bout that?
To celebrate hockey’s supreme monopoly in this department, I’m going to rank the Minnesota Wild players, not on skill, work ethic, or anything else, just their names. This will be a subjective list backed up by no valid, legitimate reasons whatsoever, so you’ll probably disagree with this and get into mad, passionate arguments about it in the comments section. Or not! Names will be rewarded for their alliterations, foreignness, overall phonetic qualities, inclusions of the letters “Q”, “V”, “X”, or “Z”, and likeliness to appear in a 60s episode of Batman. Let’s go!
1. Cal Clutterbuck. Even after points are taken away for the fact that it’s a name derived from English, Clutterbuck’s name still reigns over all other hockey names on the Wild. The hard sounds, the alliteration, the fact it rolls off the tongue, and both the words “CAL!” and “CLUTTERBUCK!” could conceivably be seen after a punch from Adam West. The only way it could be better is if it were French-Canadian, a palindrome, and it was spelled “Qal Qlutterbuck”. But at this point, I’m picking off whatever is on nits.
2. Pierre-Marc Bouchard. It has a lyrical quality to it, it has a hyphen, it’s French-Canadian, and the initials make a great nickname. That’s pretty much it. It flows just right, and that puts it near the top of this list.
3. Guillaume Latendresse. More French-Canadian than PMB, for sure, but yet… It feels clunky. It’s like Mr. and Mrs. Latendresse were trying way too hard to get a son to crack this list. It gets to the top 3 for effort and French-Canadianness, but frankly, I expected better.
4. Devin Setoguchi. If this were a last name contest, The Gooch would leap to #2. Every time Seto-GOOOOOOOOOCHI scores a goal, a PA announcer gets his wings.
5. Darroll Powe. Times are good when you’re a third-line checker and your last name is POWE! Short, to the point name that scores 100% on the Batman factor.
6. Marek Zidlicky. A great choice because it’s just as much as fun to say it right (Zhid-litz-ky), as it is to say wrong (Zid-licky). That doesn’t happen often, the correct way to say a name is often a letdown. Even Boogaard’s name was really pronounced “Bo-guard”. What would have been the fun in that? Also, there’s a “Z”.
7. Kyle Brodziak. Another “Z” name. Points for the fact that I’ve never heard of a Brodziak before, and the fact that it must be a rare word to feature the letters “D”, “Z”, and “K” in it. The only word I can think of that has all of those is “Kidz”, and that’s really only a word if the biggest influence in your life is Run-DMC.
8. Brett Bulmer. It’s not special, but alliteration scores huge points here, and even though he’s not technically on the roster, he’s played a significant amount of games, and lands on the list.
9. Mikko Koivu. It’s foreign, short, punchy, and has a lot of “K”s. A nice, solid, classy name.
10. Marco Scandella. Italian name! That’s one you don’t see around the league very often. Points recieved for being Italian, and I’m not sure whether to award or subtract points for having a last name that sounds like a pasta. Overall flow of the name makes me not care.
11. Mike Yeo. Does it really count? Yes. The man has his own church, and can disintegrate you with an intense look. You wanna tell the guy he can’t be on the list? The ultimate “punch” name. Two syllables. Mike Yeo.
12. Colton Gillies. Colton Gillies should just be Gillies. One name is all he needs. Gillies. You want to cross a guy named just “Gillies”? I sure wouldn’t- Gillies is a tough son of a bitch. He’d surpass “Prince” for the coolest (but definitely not funkiest) one-named person in Minnesota. If he was just Gillies, he’d shoot up past Clutterbuck. Stick with me Gillies, we’re gonna go far.
13. Dany Heatley. “Heatley” is a pretty fitting last name for a 50 goal scorer. It’s not exactly a world-beater, but it’s a pretty cool name. Bonus points for spawning the “Heaters Gonna Heat” meme.
14. Matt Hackett. Boring name, for sure, but it has a nice ring to it.
15. Clayton Stoner. This ranks this high because it reminds me of the greatest, Mitch Hedberg. Whenever I do a franchise on NHL Hitz 20-03, (A.K.A., the best hockey game to ever exist) I always have a player named Mitch Hedberg. Since “Mitch” or “Hedberg” isn’t on one of the nicknames the games PA announcer will say, I choose the name “Stoner”. It was fitting and awesome. I remember when Clayton Stoner scored his first goal, and it was a really weird goal, and there was a headline (somewhere) about it that said “Clayton Stoner Scores A Pothead’s Goal”. Really? That’s what that dude came up with? What exactly is a “Pothead’s Goal?” If you’re reading this now, guy who wrote that headline, you are just plain lazy. Show some damn effort!
16. Jared Spurgeon. How cool of a nickname would “Spurge” be? The only reason it’s not higher on the list is because I’m fairly certain no one calls him “The Spurge”. If I’m proven wrong, he gets bumped up past Heatley.
17. Greg Zanon. To be honest, this is only ranked this high because of the “Z” factor. Overall, it’s a pretty pedestrian name.
18. Brad Staubitz. Points for having a “Z”, but it’s shoved at the end of the name, so not too many points. It does sound like a Nazi sub name. For “Sub” rankings in order of awesomeness, it goes Sub Sandwiches > Submarine Pitchers > Nazi Subs > Substitute Teachers > Yellow Submarine. Points taken away from the name, though, because even though watching a WWII movie and hearing “Mein Fuhrer, the Americans sunk das Staubitz!” would be cool, a Nazi association isn’t really that much to write home about.
19. Mike Lundin. Points for sounding remotely Sweedish (pronounced Lun-deen). Points for nothing else.
20. Nick Schultz. See #18 “Brad Staubitz”, but more boring. While Staubitz is a Nazi Sub name, Schultz is the name of your Substitute Teacher.
21. Niklas Backstrom. It’s a foreign name, but just barely, so while it boosts it from the cellar, it makes me very, very disappointed in Nik’s parents. It takes special amounts of talent to screw up a hockey name this badly- the guy’s from FINLAND. What’s wrong with a name like Pekka Rinne, huh? Hell, Antti Miettinen blows this name out of the water. Can you imagine a hockey player coming from Russia named “Bryan Smith”?, because that’s pretty much the level of disappointment we’re dealing with here.
22. Justin Falk. Can make second graders giggle. Doesn’t do anything else for me.
23. Casey Wellman. Yawn. Gets a pass being from California, where “Hockey Player” probably wasn’t his parents ambitions for him when they were choosing the name.
24. Jeff Taffe. Lucks out of the cellar, as he leads the team in “F”s in his name.
25. Nate Prosser. Has a slightly unusual last name. But blah.
26. Josh Harding. Sam’s Choice Cola isn’t as generic.
27. Matt Cullen. Wretchedly generic name only rescued from the bottom because he’s the only hope at a potential Twilight reference since the “Robbie Earl Sombrero” came and went.
28. Nick Johnson. There’s only one thing you can tell by looking at his name. His parents clearly had their sights set on him being a baseball player.