Top 10 - Best nicknames

Tuesday, 04.12.2012 / 7:48 PM

Maurice “Rocket” Richard

Ray Getliffe spent six seasons with the Canadiens, winning a Stanley Cup with the Habs in 1944, but perhaps his greatest contribution to the team’s legacy came during an intra-squad scrimmage in 1942-43. Watching from the bench as rookie winger Maurice Richard scooped up an Elmer Lach pass and exploded into the offensive zone, Getliffe remarked that the 21-year-old forward looked like a rocket on the ice. Longtime Montreal sports writer Dink Carrol overheard the moniker and used it in the paper the following morning, spawning arguably the coolest nickname in Canadiens history. Already forced to play in his legendary brother’s shadow, fellow Hall-of-Famer Henri Richard couldn’t even escape comparisons to Maurice off the ice, later earning the nickname “Pocket Rocket” when he entered the league in 1955.

Larry “Big Bird” Robinson

It takes a big man to make a Sesame Street character seem intimidating, but Larry “Big Bird” Robinson managed to pull it off over his 17 seasons patrolling the Canadiens blue line. With a head of curly, blonde hair perched atop his 6-foot-4 frame, Robinson bore an uncanny resemblance to the feathery, PBS icon, earning the nickname almost immediately after setting foot in the Habs dressing room in 1972-73. The name stuck, following the Hall-of-Famer through a career that saw him capture six Stanley Cup rings, two Norris Trophies and a Conn Smythe.

Guy “Le Démon Blond” Lafleur

There is no better embodiment of the “Flying Frenchmen” of the 1970s than the image of Guy Lafleur in full flight, luscious blond locks blowing effortlessly in the wind. One of the most prolific goal scorers in NHL history, “Le Démon Blond” garnered almost as much attention for his Hall-of-Fame hair as he did for his ability to score at will during his 14 seasons with the Canadiens.

Chris “Knuckles” Nilan

Racking up 88 goals and 175 points during his 10 seasons with the Canadiens, Chris “Knuckles” Nilan knew how to light the lamp, but some of his best career highlights happened with his gloves off. One of the greatest enforcers in NHL history, Knuckles ruled with an iron fist, earning a franchise record 2,248 penalty minutes in 523 regular season games with the Habs.

“Captain Kirk” Muller

With Star Trek making its network debut in 1966 – the same year Kirk Muller was born – spending a lifetime fielding nicknames associated with the show’s star, Captain James Tiberious Kirk, was inevitable. Earning the moniker “Captain Kirk” long before he had the “C” stitched to his Habs jersey, the Kingston, ON native embraced the nickname, even posing for a Star Trek-themed photo for the cover of CANADIENS magazine in October 1994.

Bernard “Boom Boom” Geoffrion

You don’t get a name like “Boom Boom” taking soft shots and avoiding physical contact on the ice. Bernard Geoffrion was tagged with his popular moniker thanks to a booming slap shot that he was famously known for having introduced into the NHL at the start of his 14-year tenure with the Habs. It also didn’t hurt that he had no qualms with the era’s physical style of play, hitting hard, getting hit hard and breaking his nose six times over the course of his career.

Yvan “The Roadrunner” Cournoyer

If you’ve ever seen any of the Looney Toons Roadrunner cartoons, you know the eponymous speedy bird is famous for being un-catchable, leaving opponents in his dust and dropping the occasional anvil on his enemies. Yvan Cournoyer shared all the same traits – minus the anvil dropping – and so it seemed only natural that his fast-as-lightning skating and small stature led to the Conn Smythe winning forward forever being known as The Roadrunner.

Patrick “Casseau” Roy

Definitely one of the stranger nicknames on this list, Patrick Roy was dubbed “Casseau” by his teammates for two reasons. First, it bears noting that casseau in Quebec, generally refers to the small box french fries are often served in. Roy was apparently big on junk food and after seeing him chowing down on a box of fries more than a few times, it quickly became his nickname. Secondly, Roy wasn’t the most muscular guy at the beginning of his career and once showed up to a function wearing a suit that was way too big for his frame. One of his teammates compared him to a lone french fry in an empty casseau, and the name stuck.

Mario “Bleuet Bionique” Tremblay

Mario Tremblay earned himself the nickname the “Bleuet Bionique” (or Bionic Blueberry) by hailing from Quebec’s Lac-Saint-Jean area, known as the province’s premiere blueberry growing region. The “bionic” derived from the fact that he was so skilled a player during his time winning five Stanley Cups with Montreal, that fans naturally assumed he couldn’t be fully human and must be equipped with robotic parts and run on batteries.

Émile “Butch” Bouchard

Some nicknames make more sense than others. While Émile Bouchard’s alias does make sense (in a way), it ultimately doesn’t have a whole lot to do with his Stanley Cup winning, Hall-of-Fame-inducted style of play. During his time with the Verdun Maple Leafs, teammate, Bob Fillion, noted that Bouchard’s last name sounded a lot like the English word “butcher” and coined the name “Butch” for the future Canadiens defenseman.

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