Got some great response to the nationalities polls, with some tight races (Nedved or Hlinka?), some not-so-tight races (Bure or... No, seriously, it's Bure) and surprises (Linden over Luongo? Wow!) among the hundreds of votes cast, so it's time to dare. The Big One.
The only question that really matters.
The start of epic debates and the end of friendships.
Who, of all the players with at least a single appearance on the ice for the Vancouver Canucks, had the best name?
There were so many ways to go with this. What, after all, makes for a good name? Is it a name you or I might have, or those strange, foreign names that might get read on the news following a plane crash; or is it one you hear and think, "My God! That's a hockey name!" like Marco Sturm. Maybe not: maybe it's one that induces enough giggles to build an NHL goon like Craig Coxe*. Or its opposite, a name perhaps inspires calmer, sweeter things than steel and ice and vulcanized rubber, such as Jozef Balej. It could just be flat-out fun to say, such as Ossi Vaananen. It's kind of like "banana" - when you say it slightly drunk, it's tough to know when to stop**.
In the end, I went again with four different categories, and what I considered after careful deliberation (see: Ossi Vaananen) the best from each category. It's utterly arbitrary, of course, which is what makes it fun. I'll also mention a name or two that didn't make the cut from each spot. Fill in the blanks with your picks!
First off, there were names that looked/sounded like other things. A surprisingly deep field, including a couple favourites on this blog the Sweatt brothers Bill and Lee, but my top choice just made me laugh by virtue of the unexpected. Go ahead and say it out loud.
You second choice is from the Delicate/Adorable collection. Some I considered because they had what are classically considered women's names (this coming from a man named Erin Leigh, so easy on there) or associated with women, like Robert Flockhart. In the end, I considered Haley Wickenheiser and how badly she could kick my ass (as well as 90% of Team Canada) and decided that femininity wasn't enough. So instead, we have the one who sounds like he's having a nervous breakdown on the ice.
Third comes the Goon Squad - or would be, if names were any indication of playing style. For the most part, these guys played a tough game, but they're hockey players. This ain't basketball. And in case that link wasn't racist enough, I'm giving the wonderfully named Norse mob enforcer Garth Rizzuto a pass, here: not all Italian named players wear fedoras and carry violin cases! Steve Stone, it must be said, came awfully close to being the choice here.
And finally, the "bonus name". These were the names that were so dang much fun to say they had to be put somewhere. I'm happy to pay respects to one of the classic Canucks with the choice here, but he had stiff competition! Say, for instance, this name as if it were one syllable: Stu Kulak. Stu Kulak. Stukulak. You could use it as a mantra, or possibly for the summoning of a Great Old One, who knows? Give it a try and let me know how it turns out,
In the mean time, vote!
...But if the 1991 12th round draft pick made it, this question wouldn't even exist.
*please don't tell him I said that!