Friday, July 25, 2008

10 Strangest Old School Hockey Nicknames

Great nicknames are part of the lore and legend of professional hockey. Everyone knows exactly who you're talking about when you say "The Great One." Other great nicknames like 'The Dominator' (Dominik Hasek), The Mule (Johan Franzen), The Hammer (Dave Schultz), 'The Rocket' (Maurice Richard), and 'The Golden Jet' (Bobby Hull) have become part of the colorful history of the game.

But, then there are a few old time hockey nicknames that seem quaint or even a little strange by today's standards. Here are ten of the old timer oddballs:

10. Bernie Nicholls -- The Pumper Nicholl Kid

Now we have 'Sid the Kid', but not many jocks named after bakery products.
9. Max Bentley -- Dipsy-Doodle-Dandy
Today that would be shortened to 'Triple D' and he'd be dating a celebrity.
8. Bill Juzda -- The Honest Brakeman
Back when teams rode the rails this might have had more meaning. One of the final cuts when they were forming the "The Village People."
7. John O'Flaherty -- Peanuts
Talk about a salary cap. Peanuts received his nickname when a Toronto sports writer spotted him selling peanuts at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1933. Derek Jeter has endorsed 'Skippy' peanut butter, but does anyone call him 'Skippy'?
6. Cliff Purpur - Fido
Before someone let the mad dogs of the modern NHL out, you just had a 'Fido' on the ice. If Cliff wanted to be named after a dog 'Pooch Purpur' would have had a better ring to it.
5. Frank Nighbor -- The Pembroke Peach
Getting named after a fruit wouldn't be politically correct these days.
4. Frederick Cook -- Bun
So did his teammates just call him 'Bun' or the more formal 'Bun Cook'? Back in the day a bun was just something a hot dog went on. Bun Cook was part of the Bread Line with his brother Bill Cook and Frank Boucher. There's the bakery again. Could teammates use a nickname like that today and not giggle? It would have been fun to hear it if the fans really got after him.
3. Nels Stewart -- Old Poison
Rumor was that Nels liked to eat baked beans flavored with extra lard before every game. . .
2. Marcel Dionne -- Little Beaver
It's unclear how Marcel earned this nickname. Modern announcers would be a little wary of calling a Dionne game.
1. Georges Vézina -- The Chicoutimi Cucumber (French: 'Le Concombre de Chicoutimi')
Yes, this is the same Vézina that the NHL's 'The Vezina Trophy,' awarded annually to the league's best goaltender, is named after. The A-Rod or Big Unit of his day. Maybe they should rename the trophy 'The Cucumber Cup.' The award's vegetative namesake would then have a higher IQ than this last season's winner, Marty Brodeur.

Apparently it was was Vézina's cool and calm demeanor which earned him the nickname 'The Chicoutimi Cucumber.' However, the French version of the nickname: "Le Concombre de Chicoutimi" sounds awfully romantic. And it seems a little odd that an English expression, 'cool as a cumcumber,' would serve as the foundation for a nickname of a great French-Canadian goaltender. Perhaps those wily Frenchmen have pulled a fast one on all of us.
Bonus points if you knew how many of these men played with the Rangers (answer in comments).

update: How could we have missed one of the weirdest nicknames in all of hockey, and perhaps all of sports? Glen Sather, the NY Rangers general manager besides being known by the nickname of "Slats" is also known as "Tomato Face." Glen Sather's Wikipedia entry says:
Glen "Slats" Sather (born September 2, 1943 in High River, Alberta) is a retired professional ice hockey left winger in the World Hockey Association and National Hockey League and current President and General Manager of the New York Rangers of the NHL...

Also nicknamed "Tomato Face" due to his perpetually red face during his playing days, Sather was born in High River, Alberta but grew up in Wainwright, Alberta...
You can come up with your own punchline on this one.

Wikipedia: List of hockey nicknames

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  • jb said...

    Five of the ten played for the Rangers. Six had MSG as home ice.

    Bernie Nicholls
    Max Bentley
    Bill Juzda
    Bun Cook
    Marcel Dionne

    And Nels Stewart did play for a home team at MSG, but it wasn't the Rangers. He played for the New York Americans. They were the third expansion team in the history of the National Hockey League (NHL). They folded in 1946. Maybe Mike remembers them?

  • Chris said...

    Ranger Pundit,

    Chris here from Pittsburgh Puck Talk. I was wondering if you might want to exchange links? In the offseason I'm trying to generate a good community of hockey blogs.

    Let me know if you're interested!

    ~Chris @

  • Anonymous said...

    Wasn't Dionne "The Slot Machine" ?

  • jb said...

    Phil Esposito was known as "The Slot Machine" not Dionne. Not a bad nickname.