Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hockey Primer - Episode 1: Nicknames

Since Morgan James dragged me crying and shouting GENO NO kicking and screaming into the world of being a hockey fan, I have learned a lot. I had to, once Morgan we decided to write Winging It.  Professional hockey is a strange, terrible world with its own equally strange and terrible vocabulary and practices.

In short, it’s fun as hell to set a book in, but it’s easy to get lost in the jargon if you don’t know what you’re getting into.

Which is why Winging It has a full glossary as well as three pages of explanations of all the hockey fan inside jokes. (Sorry, Liz.) But for those of you who’re curious as to how hockey sucked me in so fast, here’s a taste.

Dumb Hockey Traditions: Nickname Edition

Watch enough interviews and behind-the-scenes moments and you will learn quickly: the NHL is populated with Peter Pans. That is, a bunch of boys who are never going to grow up. I’m not sure how this combines with typical pro sports machismo to give us Hockey Nicknames, but I think it’s great, so I’m not complaining. It gave us an excuse to give most of the guys in Winging It cute nicknames. Who can resist calling a 6’4” Russian brick wall d-man Kitty? Not I!

If you’re curious, the general formula for a hockey nickname is [syllable of name] + [-z/-y/-zy/-sy/-er/-zer/-ie/-s]. This gives us:

James Wisnewski: Wi + Z = Wiz
Carey Price: Price + Y = Pricey
Andrew Shaw: Shaw + Zy = Shawzy
Taylor Hall: Hall + Sy = Hallsy
Steven Stamkos: Stam + Er = Stammer
Jeff Carter: Cart + S = Carts
Jonathan Toews ("Taves"): Ta + Zer = Tazer
Mike Richards: Rich + Ie = Richie
Brent Seabrook: Seab + S = Seabs

[For a practical example of what this actually sounds like, watch from Blackhawks TV. Warning for hockey players "acting."]

But wait, it gets better! While many hockey nicknames lack creativity, some are inspired. And cute. Someday I will do a comparative analysis of nickname cuteness vis-à-vis hockey skill. See:

Bobby-Lu (Roberto Luongo)
Flat Stanley (Brandon Sutter)
Flower (Marc-André Fleury)
Manchild (Brandon Saad)
Tuna (Matt Niskanen)
Peekaboo (Patrick Kane)

[Follow the links and join me in thanking for their incredible, terrible mug shots. Nisky looks like a stunned turtle.]

God fucking knows how they came up with half of these. Well, okay, Flower and Bobby-Lu I get. But Tuna? Mind you, Nisky’s last name does make me think of cat food for some reason. IDK. I hope Morgan and I have done the NHL’s dumb nickname tradition proud. And now you too can come up with dorky hockey nicknames for all your friends! You’re welcome.
There’s just one more thing you have to remember. If their last name is Campbell, you have to call them Soupy. I don’t make the rules.

Coming Soon: Hockey Butts: A Newbie's Guide
What is the Carter/Richards Trade and Why Do I Care 

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