As a child, which was before YouTube , the NHL channel, and massive communication monoliths such as Comcast and Verizon were around, I used to scour NHL boxscores to see who fought in the previous night’s games.
I was always excited when a new name began appearing regularly in the box scores.
I was always curious to see whether the names of the pugilists read as tough or menacing as the reputations they were forging in my mind.
Sometimes they were, sometimes they weren’t, other times I didn’t know what to make of a player’s name. In fact, for years, I didn’t even know how to pronounce Kocur or Marchment since my only exposure to them was through box scores.
In later years, after I knew what Kocur and Marchment were all about, I developed an interest in hocley names in general. And what I have is that a player’s name usually has nothing to do with his ability or willingness to fight.
Case in point: Butch Goring. Judging by his name, the former Kings and Islanders great should have worked in a slaughter house. Ditto, Garth Butcher. Of course, we now know Goring was a perennial Lady Bing candidate, and Butcher played with an edge, but hardly lived up to his menacing sobriquet.
Morris Titanic, an early-70s Sabres draft pick was anything but. Bart Crashley was a decent journeyman, but not know for using his fists or delivering punishing bodychecks. This phenemon works in reverse, as well. Take former Star and Ranger Shane Churla. Not a damn thing churlish about him.
Then there are some names that bring things other than fighting to mind—Peanuts O’Flahraty, Ron Asseltine, Len Frig, Craig Coxe, and the Baby’s, John Jr. and Sr. Some names are eloquent like Florent Robidoux or Bob Paradise, others such as John Smrke or Stan Shmyl sound slightly more utilitarian.
Perhaps no names beat the pair of St. Louis forwards Kelly Chase and Tony Twist. The late Flyers play-by-play man Gene Hart was so struck by their names that he once quipped, “This pairing sounds like a dance.” With names like Twist and Chase, it’s no wonder both were very prolific with their fists.
Finally, some names indeed fit the players. Who could argue that names such as Boris Fistric, Stu Grimson, Dave Manson, and Bennett Wolfe didn’t conjure up visions of sticks and gloves lying strewn on the ice?
So what’s in a name? Nothing really … other than a mind-numbingly banal blog post.
Next time, I’ll tackle the nicknames …
Flyers fans hoping/expecting some payback for the March Colton Orr-fest at the Wachovia Center on March 7, don’t hold your breath. The Flyers are much too concerned about a playoff berth, and besides, you all agreed that Carcillo was too small to fight Orr anyway. With the Leafs on home ice and having nothing to play for, there could be some fireworks , but only if the Flyers indulge them.