How hockey nicknames are Bourne Print
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Written by Justin Bourne   
Monday, 19 October 2009 00:00
The creation of nicknames in dressing rooms around the world are some of the most idiotic, low-level undertakings in which humankind can partake.

It’s suuuuper-complicated.

There are 105,652 people in America alone that go by “Smitty." Their last name is Smith. What they’ve done there, is drop the “h”, and replaced it with “ty.” I’ll type slower so you can follow.

In general, the goal is to work a “y” sound on the end which, coming from a coach's mouth during a speech, makes it sound like he’s giving a speech to a room of kindergarten kids: “Burty, you’ll play with Johnny and Hasky, with Harty and Sammy.”

Here’s where it gets complicated. You’re only other real options for a hockey nickname is the “s” or “o” finish.

For example, I’ve generally been called “Bourno." The clever minds behind this little twist have dropped the last vowel, the “e," and swapped it out for the more chummy sounding “o."  My father was not so fortunate to play with the type of sharp minds that I was. He was forever stuck a “Bourny." Oh, the poor, simple minds of yesteryear.

Early in my career I played with a kind-hearted, tough lug named Troy. After seeing my name, he asked a couple colleagues in the dressing room who “BournĂ©” (pronounced “Born-ay”) was – a nice French twist that has stuck for my nickname with a few guys to this day.

As fancy as the “o” addition may sound, wait until you learn about this crazy “s” thing.

This is a tool used largely on multi-syllable names. Take “Rycroft” – we called him “Ryks.” Or “Crowder."  We called him “Crowds." Don’t forget to take off the last syllable first, folks – otherwise you end up with “Crowders,” and that’s just confusing.

Even more vexing is when the name already ends in an “s” sound, like “Forbes.” In that case, you might have to make the name slightly longer and more difficult to say, like “Forbesy,” just for the sake of including the guy. We all have to be included in this enlightened fraternity you see, and the sharp, slick nicknames are the calling card of our breed.

The “sy” ending is pretty elite. It’s SUPER chummy, and might preclude a hug. Maybe I’ll go nuts after a huge Rycroft goal and call him “Ryksy” – but save that one for a special occasion now. Don’t go splattering it about like some abstract painter. Keep this one triple-locked in the hidden vault for the birth of their child, their wedding day, or an overtime assist.

The only exception to this complicated, twisted nickname formula come in two circumstances:

1) The guy has done something totally outstanding (and not necessarily in a good way) that earned him an original nickname, or 2) He has a crazy last name. Hell, he might even be … foreign.

Back in mafia days, nicknames tended to be more descriptive. Johnny Tightlips, or BigShoulders McGuinty, or ThisGuyShootsPeople Marciano. And that’s where the totally outstanding thing comes in – the guy gets a mafia name. For example, maybe a team calls a guy “Phelps” for the time he drove a golf cart into a lake and had to swim his way out. Or “Bambi” for the time he got punched so hard he looked like Bambi trying to walk for the first time.

And those are the actual good ones, sarcasm aside. Guys spend the whole year trying to get new names to take – and the good ones rarely last beyond a year, since it’s rare that a team stays the same for too long. Plus, the worst social move in history is to get a nickname you like, and then try to suggest it to a new group of people the next year, who of course, weren’t there for the original incident. No self-nicknaming allowed.

A more recent trend is the Alex Rodriguez/A-Rod style name. I’ve played with an A-Mac and a D-Mo in recent years. See how we’re advancing as a culture?

I’m not sure why the nickname thing is so mandatory in the sport, but for whatever reason it is. Every year, each guy has a slew of nicknames from a particular team that rarely stays together for too many months, but the list they tried is a mile long. As great as that list may be, they’ll still call him by the clever “y,” “s” or “o”-sound ones, anyway.

For some reason, I could never get ECW wrestler “Justin Credible’s” nickname to take, as hard as I tried. “Bourne Star” was apparently too complex, suggestive and self-given to last.

But it wouldn’t matter anyways – I could declare myself the Holy Awesome of Sweetness, and it’s just gonna end up Bourno anyway.

My only request is that you keep the Matt Damon jokes to yourself.

They're not funny.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 January 2012 18:22