Rocket, The Great One and Mr. Hockey: Top 50 Nicknames in NHL History
Most sports teams give many teammates nicknames.
On hockey teams, everyone has a nickname. No one is referred to by their real name. Part of the reason may be because some names are too hard to pronounce or people share names.
However, the biggest reason is that giving nicknames bond people, and teams are families.
Most hockey players nicknames are just some form of either their first or last name with “ie” on the end of it, i.e. “Ovie."
Some nicknames, though, are a little more creative. Here are the top 50 NHL nicknames of all time.
50. Yvan Cournoyer: Roadrunner
Yvan Cournoyer played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1963-1979.
He was nicknamed "Roadrunner" because of his small stature (he was only 5'7") and his speed on the ice, like The Roadrunner.
49. Frank Brimsek: Mr. Zero
48. Johan Franzen: The Mule
Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen is nicknamed "the Mule."
He was given his nickname by Steve Yzerman, because "he carries the load."
47. Brian Campbell: Soupy
Brian Campbell of the Chicago Blackhawks has been nicknamed "Soupy" by his teammates.
He is called "Soupy" because he has the same last name as one of the most recognized soup manufacturers.
46. Al Arbour: Radar
Al Arbour was easily recognized because he was one of the few hockey players to wear glasses on the ice.
His head coach, Jack Adams, was the source of his nickname. During an angry rant, Adams called Arbour "a blind-eyed, CinemaScope, radar, *bleep*."
Arbour has been "Radar" ever since.
45. Georges Vezina: Chicoutimi Cucumber
Georges Vezina's nickname was the "Chicoutimi Cucumber."
He was known for being calm and cool in the net, thus the cucumber part. Chicoutimi was Vezina's hometown.
44. Nicklas Lidstrom: Saint Nicklas
Nicklas Lidstrom's nickname is Saint Nicklas, an alias for Santa Claus.
This is because Lidstrom brings gifts when he's on the ice.
43. Alexei Kovalev: AK-27
Alexei Kovalev's nickname is "AK-27."
He is nicknamed after the famous Russian AK-47 weapon, because his initials are AK and his former number was 27.
42. Olie Kolzig: Olie the Goalie
If your name rhymes with a position, you should have to play that position.
Olie Kolzig apparently agrees, as he became a goalie. He could even be called Koli the Goalie instead.
41. Claude Lemieux: Pepe
One of Claude Lemieux's nicknames was Pepe, after the French cartoon skunk, Pepe LePew.
Pepe Lemieux, instead of Pepe LePew.
40. Brian Skrudland: Skrewy
Brian Skrudland's nickname isn't all that original. His teammates just shortened his last name and added a "y."
However, Skrewy is an interesting nickname.
39. Patrice Brisebois: Breeze-by
Patrice Brisebois was called "Breeze-by" by Montreal Canadiens' fans.
This was because he usually let his opponents "breeze by" him.
38. Alexei Yashin: Alexei Cashin
Alexei Yashin sat out the 1999 season because he wanted a heftier contract.
This earned him the nickname "Alexei Cashin" by Ottawa Senators fans.
37. Ryan Malone: Bugsy
36. Dave Semenko: Cementhead
Dave Semenko's nickname was "Cementhead."
He was called "Cementhead" because it sounded like the start of his last name and because he served as a bodyguard on the ice for his teammates, especially Wayne Gretzky.
35. Frank McCool: Ulcers
Frank McCool was nicknamed "Ulcers" because he continuously played despite suffering from the painful condition.
Sadly, eventually McCool succumbed to the condition.
34. Merlin Malinowski: The Magician
Merlin Malinowski was nicknamed "The Magician" because he shared his first name with the famed magician.
The original Merlin was, according to legend, the wizard in King Arthur's court.
33. Bernie Nicholls: Pumper
Bernie Nicholls' nickname was "Pumper."
It doesn't make much sense until you combine it with his last name: "Pumper Nicholls."
32. Mark LaForest: Trees
What do you find in La Forest? Trees.
That's what prompted Mark LaForest's nickname "Trees."
31. Tim Watters: Muddy
Tim Watters earned his nickname because of his last name.
30. Larry Kwong: King
Larry Kwong also earned his nickname because of his last name.
29. Dave Schultz: Hammer
Dave Schultz was called "The Hammer" because of his physical style of play.
Schultz was known for being one of the best enforcers to play the game and also currently holds the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a single season, with 472.
28. Dave Williams: Tiger
When golf fans hear "Tiger," they think of Tiger Woods. When hockey fans hear "Tiger," they think of Tiger Williams.
Tiger got his nickname from one of his childhood coaches, due to his personality and the way he played the game.
It just stuck.
27. Ted Lindsay: Terrible
Ted Lindsay was given the nickname "Terrible."
It wasn't because he was a terrible hockey player or a terrible person, but because he was so tough, he incited terror in his opponents.
26. Alex Ovechkin: The Great 8, Alexander the Great
Wayne Gretzky is "The Great One." So when Alex Ovechkin came along and everyone started talking about how he might break Gretzky's records, he needed "Great" in his name.
Luckily, his number rhymes with great and he shares a name with a Macedonian conqueror.
25. Patrick Roy: Saint Patrick
Patrick Roy was one of the greatest goaltenders of his time. If his fans could canonize him, they probably would.
He also shares his name with a saint, who has his own holiday. Saint Patrick became the perfect nickname for Roy.
24. Duane & Brent Sutter: Dog & Pup
Duane Sutter was called "Dog" because of his yapping at opponents and officials on the ice.
When his younger brother, Brent, joined his team, the younger Sutter was called "Pup."
23. Big Bird
Big Bird was the nickname of both Larry Robinson and Don Saleski.
Robinson was called "Big Bird" because he had blond hair and was tall (6'4").
Saleski was called "Big Bird" for the same reason. Sesame Street had just gained popularity and one young fan said that that's who Saleski looked like.
22. Hector Blake: Toe
Hector Blake was nicknamed "Toe" because his younger sister couldn't pronounce Hector.
Instead, she called him "Hectoe" which was eventually shortened to just "Toe."
21. Ken Morrow: Wolfman
Ken Morrow's earned his nickname,"Wolfman," because of his beard.
Morrow's bushy beard made him look like the fictional "Wolfman" character.
20. Bernie Geoffrion: Boom Boom
Bernie Geoffrion was called "Boom Boom" because of the sounds his signature slap shot would make.
The shot's first "boom" came as it made contact with his stick and the second once it connected with its target.
19. Don Cherry: Grapes
Despite being a cherry, Don Cherry is commonly referred to as "Grapes."
The origin of the nickname is disputed, but the two most common explanations are either the shape of his head or because of his sour demeanour, as in "Sour Grapes."
18. Chris Nilan: Knuckles
Chris Nilan was known for his fighting.
Thus, he was called "Knuckles," because of his tendency to throw punches.
17. Doug Gilmour: Killer
Doug Gilmour was called "Killer" because of his physical style of play.
It was impressive that he was so physical, despite being shorter than a lot of other players.
16. Derek Boogaard: Boogey Man
The late Derek Boogaard was called "the Boogey Man" because it was his last name shortened and he was a feared enforcer.
RIP Boogey Man.
15. Stu Grimson: The Grim Reaper
Stu Grimson was another feared enforcer in his time.
This and his last name prompted his nickname, "The Grim Reaper."
14. Dominik Hasek: The Dominator
Dominik Hasek dominated the ice.
His first name also shared the first three letters with the word "dominate." So "Dominator" he became.
13. Guy LaFleur: The Flower
Guy LaFleur's last name means "the flower."
Only a man very secure in his masculinity would consent to be called “Flower.” So, it’s natural that hockey players would consent to it since they play a very physical and stereotypically manly sport.
Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins is also called "Flower."
12. Lorne Worsley: Gump
Lorne Worsley was called "Gump" because his friends thought he looked like Andy Gump.
That's probably not a compliment.
11. Curtis Joseph: Cujo
If you take away the "rtis" and "seph" in Curtis Joseph, you're left with "Cu" and "Jo."
Cujo is also the name of a fierce, rabid dog.
It makes a good nickname for a hockey player.
10. Jim Carey: The Net Detective
He also shares his name with Jim Carrey, the actor and comedian, of "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" fame.
Naturally, Jim Carey the goaltender should be named for one of the other Jim Carrey's roles.
"The Net Detective" was born.
9. Pavel Bure: Russian Rocket
Pavel Bure was known for his speed on the ice, as well as being the greatest hockey player from Russia.
By the time Bure came along, "Rocket" was already taken. Since the original Rocket was one of the greatest to ever play the game, the greatest Russian player should be named for him.
So "Russian Rocket" was born.
8. Brett Hull: The Golden Brett
Brett Hull is the son of Bobby Hull or "The Golden Jet." That was the origin of his nickname.
Instead of being "The Golden Jet," Brett became "The Golden Brett."
Lucky his named rhymed with Jet.
7. Bobby Hull: The Golden Jet
Bobby Hull was one of the greatest hockey players to ever play the game.
Hull was known for his speed, hard shot and long blonde hair, the origin for his nickname "The Golden Jet."
Hull even played for the Winnipeg Jets, perfect for his nickname.
6. Henri Richard: Pocket Rocket
Henri Richard was the younger and equally talented brother of Maurice "Rocket" Richard.
Since he was 15 years Rocket's junior and only 5'7", Richard became known as "Pocket Rocket."
5. Nikolai Khabibulin: The Bulin Wall
Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, the first Russian goaltender to win the Stanley Cup, is nicknamed "The Bulin Wall."
It's a play on both his last name and "The Berlin Wall," nothing goes through him.
Another nickname for Khabibulin is "The Nyet Minder," obviously a play on netminder and the Russian word for "no," since Khabibulin "said no" to pucks.
Finally, "The First Tsar," a play on "First Star" and historic Russian sovereignty.
4. Mario Lemieux: Le Magnifique, Super Mario
Mario Lemieux was so special of a hockey player that he has both a French and an English nickname.
Lemieux was nicknamed "Le Magnifique," because of course, he was a magnificent hockey player. He was nicknamed "Super Mario" of course, after the famous video game character.
Other popular nicknames for Lemieux are 66 and Mr. 66.
3. Wayne Gretzky: The Great One
Wayne Gretzky is easily the best hockey player. Even people who don't know anything or care about hockey recognize the name Wayne Gretzky and what to associate it with.
Gretzky holds most of the NHL's records and many of them will probably never be broken.
Especially the record for the most goals in a single season, 92. The closest anyone has gotten to the record in this millennium was Alex Ovechkin, who scored 65 goals in 2007-08.
The Great One was truly one-of-a-kind.
2. Gordie Howe: Mr. Hockey
Being called "Mr. Hockey" is quite the honor, considering how many people play the sport.
No one deserves the honor more than Gordie Howe.
Future generations may only recognize "Gordie Howe" as the namesake of the "Gordie Howe hat trick," named because Howe was both a prolific scorer and fighter on the ice.
However, Howe was much more impressive than that. He was a 23-time NHL All-Star, four-time Stanley Cup winner, six-time leading scorer and six-time league MVP.
Who better than Howe to be called "Mr. Hockey," then?
1. Maurice Richard: Rocket
The nickname "Rocket" has been elevated to more than just a nickname over the years. Most people don't even use Maurice Richard's first name anymore; I wouldn't be surprised if people forgot his first name.
Richard was dubbed "Rocket" by Ray Getliffe, a former left winger in the NHL. He saw how fast Richard was and commented that he "was like a rocket." A reporter overhead the comment and printed it. The rest is history.
Richard's legacy, and nickname, will live on forever.