One of the things I love most about team sports is the memorable nicknames that guys pick up for the weirdest of reasons. The most colourful characters didn’t always have the best nicknames but a good nickname was generally earned by the guy identified by it.
I made my high school hockey team in my grade 10 year but it was a pretty fair squad so I didn’t get a lot of ice time, especially early in the season as I was a 4th line player. I had never played above the house league level and many of the guys on the team had played triple A (or “all-star” as it was modestly called back then). I can remember one game in particular, early in the season, where some guys were missing and we went with three lines. Lo and behold, I got a regular shift for the first time. There I was sitting on the bench with my two linemates, both named Pat (not unusual as this was a Catholic high school in Peterborough) and as we were getting prepared for our first shift, Pat Maloney points to my other linemate and says to me “this is Boney, and I’m Rev.” I nodded – Boney and Rev. Got it. Those were pretty good handles and way easier than yelling “Pat!” and confusing the hell out of them when I called for the puck.
Pat Martin was a pretty skinny lad so I can only assume his nickname came from there. But a heckuva hockey player. Great puck handler, fast and a goal scorer. He was the guy teams always underestimated. He didn’t look the part in the warm-up compared to some of the other bigger, faster, stronger players. But as fun a player to watch as I every played with. Pat Maloney’s nickname, Rev, I believe was shortform for “The Reverand”. I think half the priests in Peterborough at the time were named Father Maloney but I don’t recall Pat ever having any priestly ambitions, so I’m not sure how he earned this one.
Another high school linemate was Dan McDougall. Another skinny kid but one who could shoot the puck like no other. Like his older brother before him and his younger brother that followed, Dan was Doog or Doogs. Pretty simple, no great story there. Andy Shaughnessy was Shag from the earliest years I went to elementary school with him. Big shaggy head of hair and easier than spelling his whole last name.
In my house league days, Steve Hickey was a player who, while never a star player, had a knack around the net and while going on a tear for a number of games in a row at one point, our coach christened him “Shotgun Hickey”. I think there was a fair bit of humour in this one though because I don’t recall his shot being that hard.
In later years, in the Grand River industrial league, our team captain was Darren Howe. One of the funniest people I ever met and a great leader, I think one of his goals in life was to hand out as many nicknames as Santa had handed out toys. Dave Schenk was named Hollywood, Jarrod Luchsinger (perhaps the best player I ever played with or against) he nicknamed Smooth. Greg Nowak was Wack, and Jeff Kecknie was Big Red (yes, big guy with red hair). Our goalie was dubbed Ace because who wants a goalie with a wimpy nickname? Darren himself got labeled with a couple of good ones by Smooth – Derwood, because that was the nickname of the husband named Darren on the TV show “I Dream of Jeanie” and Bernie because he was a dead ringer for the Cleveland Brown’s quarterback of the day, Bernie Kosar.
Eric Rowe was a pickup player I played with for a number of years. He was one of those goalies-who-wants-to-be-a-forward and he went by Darth. Don’t ask, I don’t know. There was also a guy from my summer league a few years back. He was a pretty big boy but he was a superb player for a big guy. My kids were little at the time and when I told them about this guy named Pete who was really good, they asked who he was. I simply said Pete the hockey player. It stuck.
There were a couple of guys named Bag along the way as well. Bag Mahon was a high school buddy who worked at the Kinsmen arena. On days off school, we’d go over and he’d get us on for shinny for free. The second Bag was….hmmmm….can’t recall his real name. Super smart guy who played for Hounds of Notre Dame out west and was at Queen’s U. at the same time I was for first year. I think he may have dropped out but can’t recall. I lost track of him when I moved out of residence. I remember one Saturday afternoon Kingston in the winter time heading up to the open air rink at the park South of Princess street with Bag and we played hockey for several hours. I was beat and finally went home but he kept playing. Fabulous skater, he may still be there.
Black has always been in fashion at the rink and Blacker was our goalie’s nickname on our intramural team at Queen’s. Andrew Black was his name so no surprise there. I used to chuckle when he’d light up a smoke either before or after the game. Then there was Blackie, as colourful a character from the Grand River league as there ever was and that was Bob Ferguson.
In more recent days, I’ve had the honour of playing with “Colonel”, a fellow Woolwich oldtimer whose last name is, you guessed it, Sanders. There’s a host of names that get the “e” sound added to the end for effect, Webb-e, Erb-e, Jones-e, McTavish-e (ok, there was never a McTavish-e on my teams but perhaps out there somewhere, there is one).
As for me, I’ve never been one of those guys who was given much in the way of nicknames. My last name had no obvious hooks but because I did continue to wear my maroon hockey pants from my high school days well into my late 30’s in the Woolwich league, some of the guys took to calling me Purple instead of learning my name. The pants finally disintegrated when I washed them in the laundry tubs a couple of years back just before the start of the season. Since there aren’t any stores that sell maroon pants in this area, I went with black and my nickname disappeared shortly thereafter.