Jovenitti: Counting down the best names in hockey

By Tony Jovenitti

I have made a lot of wild claims about hockey. A few weeks ago, I said the NHL playoffs are… I have made a lot of wild claims about hockey. A few weeks ago, I said the NHL playoffs are the best, and I even said playoff overtime is the best thing. While those points are debatable, one thing is not: Hockey has the best player names.

So here is a top 10 list of the best and funniest names in hockey. This will also be my inaugural edition of Tony’s Top 10.

First, I must lay out some ground rules for this list. The players must be active, so guys like Ron Tugnutt aren’t eligible. Also, I am judging based off what name the player goes by, so Pernell Karl Subban doesn’t count because he goes by P.K. — I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t want people calling him Pernell Karl.

With that out of the way, on to the list.

10. Niklas Hjalmarsson (JAHL’-mur-suhn), Chicago Blackhawks — The H is silent, and really that’s the only reason he’s on this list. Jalmarsson is kind of fun to say, but it’s more fun to hear people try to pronounce Hjalmarsson. In fact, I like the idea of a silent H so much that I wish my name was Hjovenitti.

9. Jarkko Ruutu (YAR’-koh ROO’-too), Ottawa Senators — His first name sounds like the perfect dog’s name, which is fitting because Ruutu has been known to bite, just ask Buffalo’s Andrew Peters. Not only is it a good canine moniker, but it is fun to play “Jarkko Ruutu” in the swimming pool. It’s like Marco Polo, but instead of tagging people, you just hit them.

8. Jonathan Cheechoo, Ottawa Senators — If you have the urge to say “God bless you” after hearing Cheechoo’s name, you’re not alone. In fact, during the Penguins’ series against the Senators this year, some fans were shouting it every time he touched the puck. The only thing more unfortunate than his name is “The Jonathan Cheechoo Song.”

7. Jeff Finger Toronto, Maple Leafs — This is also an unfortunate name — or hilarious, depending on how far in the gutter your mind is). He would be higher on this list, but he no longer plays with Adam Foote.

6. Dustin Byfuglien, Chicago Blackhawks — Go ahead, I dare you to try to pronounce his name. No, it’s not BYE’-foo-glee-in. Not even close. If it were pronounced that way, he would be much lower on this list. It’s actually pronounced BUHF’-lin. While his name is spelled ridiculously, it’s actually really fun to hear non-hockey fans try to pronounce it. Combine that with the fact that he’s 6 feet 4, and it leads to great nicknames like Big Buff.

5. Dion Phaneuf (FUH’-noof), Toronto Maple Leafs — is just a fun name to say. Go on, say it out loud. Now say it again, but put the do-doo-do-do-do after it, like the Muppet’s “Mahna Mahna” song.

4. Johnny Oduya (oh-DOO’-yuh), Atlanta Thrashers — As if the fact that a grown man still refers to himself as “Johnny” isn’t funny enough, his last name should justify his high position on this list. Keep in mind that these are all player names, so imagine an announcer saying, “Oduya coming up the ice.”

3. Jordin Tootoo, Nashville Predators — He might have the most unfortunate yet hysterical name in sports, but Predators fans have embraced it. The team even sells “Tootoo whistles” that everybody toots when he makes a good play.

2. Grant Clitsome, Columbus Blue Jackets — Yes, his last name is pronounced the way you think it is.

1. Cal Clutterbuck, Minnesota Wild — Nobody with even a weak sense of humor can read that name without at least cracking a smile. That’s the reason he is at the top of this list. If you let out a giggle reading his name, imagine watching a hockey game and hearing “Clutterbuck shoots … ”

For those of you not keeping score at home, the Blackhawks, Maple Leafs and Senators all have two players on this list. But there were several Blackhawks I had to leave off this list, including Ben Eager, Antti Niemi and Jonathan Toews (TAYVS’).

So if the Stanley Cup was awarded based off awesome names, then Chicago would be Stanley Cup Champions for the first time since 1961 … Oh, wait.

Leave a comment.