Back in May, Canada’s junior Western Hockey League held its draft for players who were born in 2000. As our Extra Mustard post noted, the names that were tallied by blogger Adam Herman of Blueshirt Banter offered a window into 21st century naming customs. Four Coles, four Chases, four Dawsons and four Jacksons were selected as well as a Jaxon, a Rin, a Ryley, a Baxter, a Lach, a Kaiden, a Jayden, a Loeden and such distinctive full names as Gianni Fairbrother and Orrin Centazzo.
This inspired us to look at the most common and distinctive monikers in the NHL by generation, starting with team rosters as of the summer of 2015 and working our way back in 30-year intervals to the old tyme hockey days of 1925. The results were indeed revealing.
Although some names such as Mike, Dave, Bill and Bob have remained common, there have been distinct trends through the years. For example, you don't see many Gords, Dicks, Cecils or Wilfreds these days, but there are more Ryans, Jakes, Tylers and Brandons. Meanwhile the league’ ubiquitous nicknames of yore have given way to initials (P.K., T.J. etc.).
NOTE: For the sake of our tabulations, variations of a name (e.g. Mark/Marc/Marcus, Jon/John/Johnny, Nick/Nicholas/Nicklas) were lumped together. We’ve also included a nod to European, Scandavian and Russian players for they too provide a glimpse into the NHL's ever-changing demographics.
TOP FIVE: Mike (26), John (25), Mark (22), Matt (21), Ryan (20)
OH, BABY (Top five most popular names): Liam, Noah, Ethan, Mason, Logan (U.S.); Aidan, Jacob, Ethan, Nicholas, Matthew (Canada)
PLUS/MINUS: John (+12), Matt (+21) and Ryan (+19) replaced Dave, Bob and Rich/Rick in the top five from 1984-85 when three Mats (Naslund, Hallin, Thelin) but no Matts or Matthews, and one Ryan (Walter), played in the NHL. In the iconic first names department, there is now one Wayne (Simmonds) and one Sid (Crosby) on NHL rosters but no Mario or Gordie.
NOTABLES: Chris (19), Nick (16), Alex (15), Drew (14), Jake (10), Justin (9), Tyler, Brandon, Kyle (8)
OF DISTINCTION: Players using their initials is a modern trend. Among them: P.K. (Pernell Karl) Subban, P.A. (Pierre-Alexandre) Parenteau, J.T. (Jonathan Tanner) Miller and (Joshua Thomas) Brown, T.J. (Timothy Leif) Oshie and (Terrance James) Brennan.
FOREIGN ACCENTS: Nikita (4), Dmitry (3), Henrik (3)
TOP FIVE: Dave (30), Bob (28), Mike (24), Rich/Rick (23), Mark (20)
OH, BABY (Top five most popular names): Michael, Christopher, Matthew, Joshua, Daniel (U.S.)
PLUS/MINUS: Dave (+28), Mike (+24), Rich/Rick (+23) and Mark (+19) replaced Bill, Jim, Jack, and the Dick-Larry-Ed-Don-Paul tie in the top five from 1954-55. Nicknames dwindled to three: Tiger (Williams), Butch (Goring), Rocky (Trottier). Two players went by their initials: J.J. (Jean-Jacques) Daigneault and J.F. (Jean-François) Sauvé.
NOTABLES: Five Gordies/Gords (Lane, Donnelly, Dineen, Roberts, Sherven),four Waynes(Gretzky,Babych, Groulx, Presley) and four Marios (Lemieux, Marois, Tremblay, Gosselin) graced the NHL but no Sid. There was, however, two Moes (Mantha, Lemay) and six Larrys (Melnyk, Murphy, Patey, Playfair, Robinson, Trader) but, alas, no Curly or Shemp. (Robbie Schremp did not come along until 2006-07, but a Three Stooges line of a Moe, Larry and Schremp would certainly qualify as one for the ages.) Doubles were surprisingly common: two Steve Smiths, two Greg Adams, two Ron Wilsons and two Dave Jensens.
Top 30 Hockey Names of All Time
The Vancouver Province has published its list of the 50 best names in hockey, all current, ( Click here ), so we thought we'd choose our favorite 30 of all time that evoke hockey or simply please with their color. Note: This list does not include nicknames. For the best of those, try this gallery ( Click here ). And now we begin at the end of the alphabet with a double dose of Zs from the journeyman defenseman who of the late 1980s and through the '90s. Honorable mention: Zenon Kenopka
Hard not to love a guy named Ziggy (short for Zigmund), who enjoyed a star turn with the Islanders and Kings during the '90s and into the 2000s before concluding with the Penguins.
A winter classic. Plain and simple.
A guy named Ulf just sounds mean, and this Swedish blueliner of the '80s and '90s (seen here as a Ranger) surely was.
A perfect name for a checking winger. The former Sabre-Shark-Flyer of the '90s sounded kind of cuddly in a rugged sort of way...
NASCAR had Dick Trickle, the Hall of Fame has former Canadiens winger Dick Duff. Honorable mention: Mike Hurlbut, Bruce Shoebottom
Continuing in our thoroughly childish vein, with a name pronounced Poo-pa , this fellow's better found in the net than on the rug.
Our favorite among Russian names, the former winger (Blackhawks, Predators, Flames, Wild, Mighty Ducks) reminds us of a cosmonaut, although his NHL career was hardly stellar.
Wide open to interpretation by announcers -- Eye-van Korn-noy-err , Ee-vohn Corn-why-ay , Eye-van Cornwire and all points in between -- the great Canadiens forward was probably best referred to by his nickname: The Roadrunner.
Hockey has its share of great "chuks" -- Ilya Kovalchuk, Darcy Hordichuk, Keith Tkachuk, Dale Hawerchuk, and Gene Achtymichuk among them -- but this Hall of Famer's name was cutting edge.
We nominate this Finnish defenseman as the leader of the vowel movement. Honorable mention: Hexi Riihiranta, Pete Peeters
You can only ask as much from anyone, although this bruising blueliner did have a pugnacious streak. "I remember my mom telling me 'You've got to learn to control your temper," Playfair once told Sabres magazine. "I'd get mad really quick about stupid things, I mean anything. I remember once, (in midget hockey) we lost a playoff game, and we were going down the line, shaking hands, and I just drilled a kid right in the head, I was just so mad."
Just like the sport he played as a defenseman for the Sabres and Rangers (1979-91) and coaches in Buffalo.
John Van Boxmeer
The former Canadiens, Rockies, Sabres and Nordiques blueliner (1973-84) just summons to mind the fistic side of the game...or the penalty box where he spent a relatively modest 465 minutes during his NHL career. Steve Kraftcheck sounds like he belonged in there, too.
The former Whalers-Flames-Thrashers-Wild center's first name fits nicely in the eye chart department with Mariusz Czerkawski while his last ranks with such Italian pleasers as Fernando Pisani, Carlo Colaiacovo and Dino Ciccarelli...
Not the most famous Orr, but surely the leader of the tweed jacket pricey prep school set that includes Forbes Kennedy and Hartland Monahan.
The Hall of Fame center's name is the epitome of French-Canadian elegance -- like Jean Beliveau, Rogatien Vachon or Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond -- and his nickame was pretty cool, too: "Newsy" for his having worked in a newsprint plant.
This hardnosed winger hardly wears one -- a ballet outfit, we mean -- so we give him the edge over the other notable oo's that include Jonathan Cheechoo, Derek Boogaard, Pat Falloon, and Per Djoos.
A Ranger forward of the 1940s, Pike sounds like he'd put your head on one. Honorable mention: Ted Speers.
This blueliner (1982-95) sounds serial-killer tough.
Though his last name is actually pronounced "Sha-tahn", it looked devishly good on the back of his sweater.
A painful affliction, like what you'd get after one of the Lithuanian defenseman's punishing checks...
Perhaps the most evocative name as far as hitting and fighting go belongs to this former Oilers and Rangers blueliner. Honorable mention: Fred Boimistruck
A defensive pairing of Bombardir (here with the Wild) and Beukeboom would have been positively explosive...
There's something cartoonishly evocative about this one. (The Czech center was Ottawa's first pick (third overall) in the 1994 entry draft.) Honorable mention: Bart Crashley, Ron Schock
The notable Flames forward of the 1980s made you think of greasy speed or the kind of nasty chest cold you get from hanging around rinks.
Too bad the Ducks weren't around in the 1940s and '50s, or this Hall of Fame blueliner and his brother Max would have been naturals...
A notorious enforcer, his name made it sound like he'd twist your head off. Honorable mention: Morris Titanic
Simply a great name for a goaltender. Too bad that Patrick Sharp isn't one.
The Hall of Fame defenseman summons to mind the cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn, but was considerably nastier, and the horn in his last name evokes goals by the home team and the end of play in the period. Honorable mention in the sound effects department: Ville Siren, Aubrey Clapper