On Monday, just one day after scoring his second game-winning goal in as many contests, helping his team sweep San Jose to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in the process, Dustin Byfuglien was presented with some shocking news.
His agent, Ben Hankinson, called his client and told Byfuglien that, as he's now becoming one of the league's brighter stars, the player needs to consider changing the spelling of his last name.
"It's a must," Hankinson said.
"Dustin is proving in these playoffs that he's one of the best clutch players in the game. People outside of Chicago are starting to take notice of him, other media markets, Canadians, etc. They hear his name but can't find him in a Google search. That's a problem."
Hankinson explained that, from a marketing standpoint, having a name that's easy to spell is important for any player. Especially one whose star is on the rise.
"Fans are interested in buying jerseys, finding out biographical data on a player, checking stats, they do this by entering a guy's name in a search engine. But, if you've got kind of a weird name, people won't find you. As a player, that's not something you want."
Hankinson said that, though a player's primary focus is on winning and playing up to their potential, the media attention they face requires they be as marketable, and friendly, as possible.
"I don't want Buff to focus on anything other than winning the Stanley Cup. But, thinking about stuff like this is what he has me for. I'm in charge of managing the Dustin Byfuglien brand. And if people don't know how to spell your brand name, you're not going to become very well known."
Hankison went on to say that his insistence that Byfuglien change the surname spelling should actually be a point of pride for the 25-year-old power forward.
"Look, I wasn't telling him this when he came into the league in 2005. To be honest, I didn't think it'd ever come up. He was a defenseman back then, a lot of people thought he was too fat to play, and I wasn't sure if he'd last in the NHL. But now, he's leading his team in game-winning playoff goals, he's totally laid off the Twinkies, and he's a big deal, a star; time to ditch the crazy spelling and go with something that works."
Hankinson used a familiar example to make his point.
"Okay, so say instead of 'Apple' or 'Macintosh' Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak [co-founders of Apple Inc.] went with their last names as a brand name. So, instead of an Apple Ipod, you've got a 'Wozniak Ipod;' instead of a Mac, you've got a 'Jobs.' You'd be confusing the hell out of people telling them that you have a 'Jobs' for a computer, you know? They'd say, 'Yeah, I have a computer at my job too, what the hell are you talking about?' You know?"
Bleacher Report acknowledged that, yes, we did know.
"People are kind of stupid nowadays, they don't want to think too hard about things, and when Little Johnny Blackhawks Fan says he wants a No. 33 road jersey for his birthday, it doesn't make sense for his dad to get all confused trying to figure out how to spell a guy's crazy name when he's searching for it on NHL.com."
When asked which spelling he's going to suggest to Byfuglien, Hankinson said there are actually a few different options.
"The obvious one, the one that makes sense is B-U-F-F-L-I-N; that's the way it should be spelled in the first place. Unless he's really attached to the 'Y' in his name, then you can switch out the 'I' with 'Y'. But, you know, as long as we're going with a change, we could do what Chad Johnson did in Cincinnati. He wanted to be Ochocinco, Dustin can be 'Big Buff!' That's what his teammates call him anyway."
Asked if he really thought having his client follow in the footsteps of an idiot wide-receiver was a good idea, Hankinson had this to say.
"You know, hockey players are so humble, so quiet, they don't get all crazy and outrageous the way guys do in other sports. Dustin could be setting the trend by going with something like 'Dustin Big Buff' as a name. You know, shake things up."