Greatest Hockey Nicknames
What's in a name? When you're born, nothing, really. That name is given, not earned.
But a nickname? The right nickname tells you all you need to know about a person.
Here are the best — and most telling — nicknames in hockey history.
50. Francis 'King' Clancy
Born: Feb. 25, 1902, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Died: Nov. 10, 1986 (aged 84), in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 16 years (1921-37)
Teams: Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs
Bottom line: The original "King" Clancy was actually a football star.
"In those days (around 1896) of Canadian football, the ball wasn't snapped from center as it is today," Clancy told biographer Brian McFarlane. "Instead, the center would stand upright and from this position he would 'heel' it back to the quarterback. My dad was a master of this art and somewhere along the line, he picked up the nickname 'King of the Heelers.' "
The son surpassed the father and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.
49. Luc 'Lucky' Robitaille
Born: Feb. 17, 1966, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
NHL career: 19 years (1986-2006)
Teams: Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings
Bottom line: Named after the "Lucky Luke' cartoons that he watched as a child, Robitaille's "luck" didn't run out in the NHL, where the winger's knack for being in the right place at the right time led to 668 career NHL goals.
And he did it all with a big smile.
"If you could bottle and sell that smile you would make millions," said Mike Murphy, who coached Robitaille during his Calder Trophy-winning campaign. "And the only thing quicker than his smile is his shot."
48. Walter 'Turk' Broda
Born: May 15, 1914, in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
Died: Oct. 17, 1972 (aged 58), in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 14 years (1936-52)
Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs
Bottom line: We can thank an English king for this nickname.
When Walter Broda was in grade school, a teacher noted that an English king had been called "Turkey Egg" because of the freckles dotting his round face. A classmate pointed out that the freckled Walter also resembled a turkey egg. From then on, Broda was called "Turkey Egg," which eventually evolved to "Turk."
The goaltender was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1967 after leading the Maple Leafs to five Stanley Cup championships.
47. Hector 'Toe' Blake
Born: Aug. 21, 1912, in Victoria Mines, Ontario, Canada
Died: May 17, 1995 (aged 82), in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
NHL career: 14 years (1934-48)
Teams: Montreal Maroons, Montreal Canadiens
Bottom line: A baby nicknamed this Hall of Famer. Hector Blake's little sister Margaret, unable to pronounce "Hector" as a toddler, called him "Hec-toe."
Blake was a rare success as both NHL player and head coach. As a player, Blake won the Hart Trophy in 1939. As a coach, he led the Canadiens to eight Stanley Cup championships.
46. Billy 'Hatchet Man' Smith
Born: Dec. 12, 1950, in Perth, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 18 years (1971-89)
Teams: New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings
Bottom line: How can a goaltender be like a murderer?
Mark Beech wrote in Sports Illustrated in 1983: "For almost two decades Battlin' Billy treated opponents like no goalie before him. The crease was his, and woe to the forward who made the mistake of gliding through it — or of even getting too close. Smith was notorious for viciously using his stick on rival skaters, especially jabbing opponents with the butt end."
Because of Smith, the NHL mandated that all goalies tape the butt end of their stick.
When the four-time Stanley Cup champion retired in 1989, he was the most penalized netminder in league history.
45. Dave 'The Hammer' Schultz
Born: April 20, 1993, in Pembroke Pines, Florida, United States
NHL career: 9 years (1971-80)
Teams: Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres
Bottom line: Armed with a devastating right hand — hence "The Hammer" — the fighter set a still-standing NHL record with 472 penalty minutes in 1974-75.
Schultz, however, harbored regrets about his role in hockey's bloodiest era. He wrote in The New York Times in 1982, "If playing hockey means fighting, then take up golf, tennis — anything that stresses skill over simple violence."
44. Yvan 'The Roadrunner' Cournoyer
Born: Nov. 22, 1943, in Drummondville, Quebec, Canada
NHL career: 16 years (1963-79)
Teams: Montreal Canadiens
Bottom line: The 5-foot-7 Yvan Cournoyer was one of the fastest skaters in NHL history.
"The Roadrunner" wasn't all feet, either: Cournoyer led Montreal in goal scoring four times, no small feat for a Canadiens squad that won 10 Stanley Cups over the winger's 16-year career.
43. Rod 'The Secretary of Defense' Langway
Born: May 3, 1957, in Maag, Taiwan
NHL career: 15 years (1978-93)
Teams: Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals
Bottom line: How good was Rod Langway at playing defense? The Washington Capital won the Norris Trophy for best defenseman in 1983 and 1984, despite finishing outside of the top-40 in defensemen scoring in both seasons.
That's unprecedented: In the 66-year history of the Norris Trophy, no defenseman has ever scored so little to win it.
Naturally, fans in the nation's capital dubbed Langway "The Secretary of Defense."
42. Fred 'Cyclone' Taylor
Born: June 23, 1884, in Tara, Ontario, Canada
Died: June 9, 1979 (aged 94), in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Playing career: 16 years (1906-22)
Teams: Vancouver Maroons (PCHA), Vancouver Millionaires (PCHA), Renfrew Creamery Kings (NHA), Ottawa Hockey Club (ECAHA), Pittsburgh Athletic Club (WPHL), Portage Lakes Hockey Club (IHL)
Bottom line: It's not everyday that the Governor-General of Canada coins your nickname.
Such was the case for Fred "Cyclone" Taylor, so named by Earl Grey, Governor General of Canada, because of his skating ability.
Arguably hockey's first superstar, Taylor was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947.
41. Curtis 'CuJo' Joseph
Born: April 29, 1967, in Keswick, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 19 years (1989-2009)
Teams: St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames
Bottom line: Robert Dirk was a journeyman defenseman who played for five teams over a nine-year NHL career. Dirk may not have stuck around for long, but his nickname for then-Blues teammate Curtis Joseph did.
Joseph explained, "He shortened my name and I ran with that theme — the mad dog on the mask." That goaltender mask — inspired, of course, by the eponymous Stephen King horror novel — would become one of hockey's most memorable.
Equally memorable was Joseph's work between the pipes. He retired in 2008-09, one of just four goalies to win over 450 games.
40. Joe 'Jumbo' Thornton
Born: July 2, 1979, in London, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 22 years (1997-present)
Teams: Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks
Bottom line: Sometimes, the marriage between a player and a nickname is just perfect.
"You know how in sports you’re always looking for the right fit?" asked Glen Murray, who along with Travis Green, popularized the "Jumbo" moniker in Boston. 'How a guy fits on a team, on a line, in a dressing room? Well, here’s a nickname that just fit. His name was Joe. And he was really big."
At 6-foot-4 and with a matching personality, Joe Thornton could've been "Jumbo" in any walk of life. Lucky for us, he's still making his presence felt in the NHL. The sure-fire Hall of Famer is playing in his 22nd NHL season.
39. Hal 'Skillsie' Gill
Born: April 6, 1975, in Concord, Massachusetts, United States
NHL career: 16 years (1997-2014)
Teams: Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, Philadelphia Flyers
Bottom line: "Skillsie" isn't how Hal Gill would describe himself.
But it's what Gill's Montreal Canadiens teammates — with affection but no lack of irony — dubbed the rugged 6-foot-7 defenseman, who averaged about two goals a season over his 16-year career.
"When you're a hockey fan, you want to see awesome hockey plays, and I'm not the guy to give you awesome hockey plays," Gill once admitted.
38. Derek 'Boogeyman' Boogaard
Born: June 23, 1982, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Died: May 3, 2011 (aged 28), in Minneapolis, Minnesota
NHL career: 6 years (2005-11)
Teams: Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers
Bottom line: In an NHL where fighting has become more and more marginalized, Derek Boogaard was one of the last great fighters.
A truly intimidating presence who earned the "Boogeyman" moniker, the 6-foot-7 enforcer died of an accidental overdose of oxycodone and alcohol in May 2011. He was just 28.
37. Ted 'Terrible Ted' Lindsay
Born: July 29, 1925, in Renfrew, Ontario, Canada
Died: March 4, 2019 (aged 93), in Oakland, Michigan, United States
NHL career: 17 years (1944-65)
Teams: Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Black Hawks
Bottom line: "Terrible Ted" Lindsay was just as tough off the ice as he was on the ice.
On the ice, the 5-foot-8 Hall of Famer earned the moniker with his tenacious play. In fact, the NHL passed rules against elbowing and kneeing opponents because of "Terrible Ted."
Off the ice, in a notoriously anti-union era, Lindsay helped organize the first NHL players union.
36. Ed 'JovoCop' Jovanovski
Born: June 12, 1976, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 18 years (1995-2014)
Teams: Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes,
Bottom line: There's "Robocop," and there's "JovoCop."
It was Florida Panthers radio announcer Chris Moore who gave Ed Jovanovski — the defenseman who policed NHL bluelines with hard-hitting authority for 18 years — the nickname.
35. Frank 'Mr. Zero' Brimsek
Born: Sept. 26, 1915, in Eveleth, Minnesota, United States
Died: Nov. 11, 1998 (aged 83), in Virginia, Minnesota
NHL career: 10 years (1938-50)
Teams: Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks
Bottom line: It's not often that you earn a nickname after just eight NHL games.
But Frank Brimsek did just that, recording six shutouts in his first eight games backstopping the Boston Bruins.
"Mr. Zero" was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.
34. Howie 'The Stratford Streak' Morenz
Born: Sept. 21, 1902, in Mitchell, Ontario, Canada
Died: March 8, 1937 (aged 34), in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
NHL career: 14 years (1923-37)
Teams: Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Black Hawks, New York Rangers
Bottom line: Howie Morenz actually has two popular nicknames.
Born in Mitchell, Ontario, Morenz was dubbed "The Mitchell Meteor" because of his blazing speed. But nearby Stratford, where Morenz starred as an amateur, was where the better-remembered "Stratford Streak" got the attention of the Montreal Canadiens.
But another nickname better illustrates the prolific scorer's impact on the sport: He was also known as "The Babe Ruth of Hockey."
The Canadian Press named Morenz the greatest hockey player of the half-century in 1950.
33. Bernie 'The Pumper Nicholl Kid' Nicholls
Born: June 24, 1961, in Haliburton, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 18 years (1981-99)
Teams: Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks
Bottom line: It's a nickname inspired by one of hockey's all-time cellys. After scoring, Nicholls would raise his right leg and pump his right arm in a frenetic windmill motion.
It was Kings announcer Bob Miller who came up with "The Pumper Nicholl Kid" moniker.
Nicholls celebrated a lot over his 18-year career, pumping home 475 goals.
32. Bill 'Honest Brakeman' Juzda
Born: Oct. 29, 1920, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Died: Feb. 17, 2008 (aged 87), in Winnipeg, Manitoba
NHL career: 9 years (1940-52)
Teams: New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs
Bottom line: Athletes used to make a lot less money in the 1950s.
Case in point, physical defenseman Bill Juzda, who worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the summer.
His teammates dubbed him the "Honest Brakeman."
31. James 'Optimus Reim' Reimer
Born: March 15, 1988, in Morweena, Manitoba, Canada
NHL career: 10 years (2010-present)
Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes
Bottom line: James Reimer took Toronto by storm in 2010-11, winning Rookie of the Month in March 2011.
Maple Leafs fans dubbed him "Optimus Reim" after the "Transformers" character, Optimus Prime.
The goaltender took the nickname in stride, wearing multiple Transformers-inspired masks over his career.
30. Jyrki 'Kevin' Jokipakka
Born: Aug. 20, 1991, in Tampere, Finland
NHL career: 3 years (2014-17)
Teams: Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators
Bottom line: Ever have your name misspelled on a Starbucks cup? Jyrki Jokipakka certainly has.
After Starbucks barista after barista couldn't spell his name right, Jokipakka just started saying he was "Kevin." Dallas Stars teammates picked up on it.
"It was easier," said Jokipakka.
"Kevin" is currently playing in Russia, after a brief NHL career.
29. Frank 'Never' Beaton
Born: April 28, 1953, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
NHL career: 2 years (1978-80)
Teams: New York Rangers
Bottom line: Unfortunately, this wasn't quite true.
The pugilist earned the "Never" moniker in the 1970s as he battled his way from the juniors up to the NHL.
But after losing a few scraps in the NHL, his nickname was changed to "Seldom" Beaton.
28. Artemi 'Bread Man' Panarin
Born: Oct. 30, 1991, in Korkino, Russia
NHL career: 5 years (2015-present)
Teams: Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers
Bottom line: Who would guess that the normally stoic Joel Quenneville would coin one of the more memorable modern monikers?
After just one regular-season game during Artemi Panarin's rookie campaign, the Blackhawks coach dubbed the Russian "Bread Man," after the winger's puck-carrying wizardry and restaurant chain Panera Bread.
Panarin has certainly justified the nickname, finishing first or second on his team in scoring in the first four seasons of his career.
27. Mariusz 'The Polish Prince' Czerkawski
Born: April 13, 1972, in Radomsko, Poland
NHL career: 12 years (1993-2006)
Teams: Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs
Bottom line: "The Polish Prince" wasn't royalty.
Instead, he was a hockey player, so dubbed because he was a rare NHL player from Poland.
Czerkawski scored over 20 goals in a season six times in a career that ended in 2006.
26. Lou 'Louie the Leaper' Fontinato
Born: Jan. 20, 1932, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Died: July 3, 2016 (aged 84) in Guelph, Ontario
NHL career: 9 years (1954-63)
Teams: New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens
Bottom line: Lou Fontinato's short fuse would lead to a lasting nickname.
When whistled for a penalty — Fontinato led the NHL in penalty minutes three times — the defenseman would often jump with rage.
Also called "Leapin' Louie,' the longtime Ranger was a Madison Square Garden favorite.
25. Shayne 'Ghost Bear' Gostisbehere
Born: April 20, 1993, in Pembroke Pines, Florida, United States
NHL career: 5 years (2014-present)
Teams: Philadelphia Flyers
Bottom line: As a freshman at Union College, Shayne Gostisbehere's teammates called him "Ghost."
Thanks to a hard-to-pronounce last name — it's pronounced "GAWS-tihs-bair" — Philadelphia Flyers fans just called the dynamic blueliner "Ghost Bear."
Gostisbehere even has taken to scribbling a ghost and a bear with his autograph.
24. Ken 'The Rat' Linseman
Born: Aug. 11, 1958, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 14 years (1978-92)
Teams: Philadelphia Flyers, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs
Bottom line: Bobby Clarke called Ken Linesman "The Rat" because of his low, hunched skating form.
Linesman's chippy (some would say "dirty") playing style and resemblance to members of the order Rodentia didn't hurt.
Linesman helped the 1984 Edmonton Oilers win a Stanley Cup.
23. George 'Punch' Imlach
Born: March 15, 1918, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died: Dec. 1, 1987 (aged 69), in Toronto, Ontario
NHL coaching career: 14 years (1958-69, 1970-72, 1979-80)
Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres
Bottom line: George "Punch" Imlach never played in the NHL, but he was the coach and general manager behind the Toronto Maple Leafs' last Stanley Cup in 1967.
"Punch" received his nickname when he was knocked out as an amateur player. On regaining consciousness, he began swinging his fist — at his own team.
The moniker also described how the 1984 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee handled his teams as a coach and general manager: He was an infamous taskmaster who drove some of his stars to mental exhaustion and quitting.
But his success was indisputable, as he led Toronto to four championships.
22. Fred 'Freddie the Fog' Shero
Born: Oct. 23, 1925, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Died: Nov. 24, 1990 (aged 65), in Camden, New Jersey
NHL career: 3 years as player (1947-50), 10 years as coach (1971-81)
Teams: New York Rangers (player), Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers (as coach)
Bottom line: Dubbed "Freddie the Fog" because of occasional absentmindedness, coach Fred Shero owned a clear insight into hockey's future.
Shero was a leader in studying video and incorporating Soviet tactics into a North American style of play in the 1970s. He was also the first NHL coach to hire a full-time assistant and to have his skaters play in a system.
The bench boss wasn't just an innovator. He led the Philadelphia Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975.
21. Aubrey Victor 'Dit' Clapper
Born: Feb. 9, 1907, in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
Died: Jan. 20, 1980 (aged 70), in Peterborough, Ontario
NHL career: 20 years (1927-47)
Teams: Boston Bruins
Bottom line: His parents called him Victor. But because of a childhood speech impediment, when Clapper introduced himself, "Victor" became "Ditter," which was eventually shortened to "Dit."
The first player to be immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on retirement, Clapper was best known for his versatility and longevity. The lifelong Boston Bruin was an All-Star as both a right winger and defenseman.
He also was the first player to play 20 years in the NHL, a career that ended in 1947.
20. Lorne 'Gump' Worsley
Born: May 14, 1929 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died: Jan. 26, 2007 (aged 77), in Beloeil, Quebec, Canada
NHL career: 21 years (1952-74)
Teams: New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota North Stars
Bottom line: Gump Worsley only has himself to blame. Born Lorne Worsley, he was nicknamed "Gump" as a kid because of his resemblance to popular comic strip character Andy Gump.
But Worsley revealed that he sealed his own fate: "It’s my own fault because when I went to play junior, you had to fill out a form and they asked for nickname and I put 'Gump' down, and it stuck."
It stuck all the way to the Hockey Hall of Fame, where Gump was inducted in 1980.
19. Larry 'Big Bird' Robinson
Born: June 2, 1951, in Winchester, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 20 years (1972-92)
Teams: Montreal Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings
Bottom line: It's easy to see why the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Larry Robinson was called "Big Bird."
Good thing for the Montreal Canadiens, Robinson was far more mobile and skilled than his "Sesame Street" namesake.
The defenseman led the Canadiens to six Stanley Cups and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.
18. Tony 'O' Esposito
Born: April 23, 1943, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 16 years (1968-84)
Teams: Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks
Bottom line: A play on both his last name and his record-breaking rookie season, Tony "O" set a still-standing modern-day NHL mark with 15 shutouts in 1969-70.
The Chicago Blackhawks goaltender was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.
17. Georges 'The Chicoutimi Cucumber' Vezina
Born: Jan. 21, 1887, in Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada
Died: march 27, 1926 (aged 39), in Chicoutimi, Quebec
NHL career: 9 years (1917-26)
Teams: Montreal Canadiens
Bottom line: "The Chicoutimi Cucumber" was known for his composure between the pipes.
Georges Vezina played 366 consecutive regular-season and playoff games, before leaving a game early in 1925 due to illness. The Chicoutimi, Quebec native was diagnosed with tuberculosis and died a year later.
Vezina's team, the Montreal Canadiens, donated the Vezina Trophy to the NHL in 1926-27. The Vezina Trophy still is awarded today to the outstanding goaltender of the season.
16. Mario 'Super Mario' Lemieux
Born: Oct. 5, 1965, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
NHL career: 17 years (1984-94, 1995-97, 2000-06)
Teams: Pittsburgh Penguins
Bottom line: "Super" is the most appropriate description for Mario Lemieux. Debuting for the Pittsburgh Penguins around the time that popular video game, "Super Mario Bros.," hit the North American market, "Super Mario" was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997.
So great were his accomplishments, he was just the ninth player to have the mandatory three-year Hall of Fame waiting period waived.
Bobby Orr called him "the most talented player I've ever seen."
15. Andrew 'Hamburglar' Hammond
Born: Feb. 11, 1988, in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
NHL career: 5 years (2013-18)
Teams: Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avalanche
Bottom line: A play on his name and McDonald's hamburger-loving thief, Andrew Hammond was called "The Hamburglar" since college.
But this version of "The Hamburglar" arrived on the scene when he was called up by the Ottawa Senators to fill in for an injured goalie.
The 27-year-old rookie won 20 of his next 23 games, leading the 2014-15 Senators to the playoffs.
14. Teemu 'The Finnish Flash' Selanne
Born: July 3, 1970, in Helsinki, Finland
NHL career: 21 years (1992-2014)
Teams: Winnepeg Jets, Anaheim Ducks/Mighty Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalanche
Bottom line: The speedy, electric Finn broke into the NHL like a lightning bolt, shattering the rookie record for most goals in a season with 76.
Hence, "The Finnish Flash," coined by Ken Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press, was born.
Selanne terrified his opposition for three decades, retiring in 2014 with 684 goals.
13. Don 'Grapes' Cherry
Born: Feb. 5, 1934, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada
NHL coaching career: 6 years (1974-80)
Teams: Boston Bruins, Colorado Rockies
Bottom line: Don Cherry never has been Mr. Easygoing. Irascibility is more his style. Throw in an ironic last name, and you get "sour grapes."
The Canadian icon continues to spread his particular kind of cheer on "Hockey Night in Canada."
12. Jonathan 'Captain Serious' Toews
Born: April 29, 1988, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
NHL career: 12 years (2007-present)
Teams: Chicago Blackhawks
Bottom line: "Like success, nicknames have a thousand fathers," Michael Farber wrote in a Sports Illustrated profile about Jonathan Toews.
In much the same way, the origins of "Captain Serious" are shrouded in mystery. Patrick Sharp says he came up with it. Toews credited Brent Seabrook.
Regardless, Toews's business-like demeanor helped usher in an unprecedented era of success for the Chicago Blackhawks, as he led them to championships in 2010, 2013, and 2015.
11. Jim 'The Net Detective' Carey
Born: May 31, 1974, in Dorchester, Massachusetts, United States
NHL career: 6 years (1994-99)
Teams: Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues
Bottom line: In the mid-1990s, Canadian comedian Jim Carrey took Hollywood by storm with blockbusters like "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective."
At the same time, American goaltender Jim Carey was taking the NHL by storm, winning the 1995-95 Calder Trophy.
Carey was the first goaltender in NHL history to be nominated for the Vezina Trophy in each of his first two seasons.
While Carrey went on to rule Hollywood for years to come, Carey's success in hockey ended. He was out of the NHL just three years later.
10. Wayne 'The Great One' Gretzky
Born: Jan. 26, 1961, in Brantford, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 20 years (1979-99)
Teams: Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers
Bottom line: A local reporter dubbed Wayne Gretzky "The Great One" when he was just 10 years old, and Gretzky has lived up to his title — and more.
Upon retirement in 1999, Gretzky owned or shared 61 NHL records, including all-time career marks in goals, assists and points.
What Gordie "Mr. Hockey" Howe was to earlier generations of hockey fans, "The Great One" is now.
9. Bernie 'Boom Boom' Geoffrion
Born: Feb. 16, 1931, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died: March 11, 2006 (aged 75), in Atlanta, Georgie, United States
NHL career: 16 years (1950-64, 1966-68)
Teams: Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers
Bottom line: Bernie Geoffrion was one of the pioneers of the slapshot.
A local sportswriter nicknamed Geoffrion "Boom Boom" for his thundering contribution to the sport.
The prolific goalscorer was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.
8. Dave 'Tiger' Williams
Born: Feb. 3, 1954, in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada
NHL career: 14 years (1974-88)
Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Hartford Whalers
Bottom line: Dave "Tiger" Williams played (and fought) the same way his entire life.
The NHL's all-time penalty minutes leader said, of his nickname: "I've had it all my life. It was partly because of my personality and partly because of the way I played when I was a kid."
7. Nikolai 'The Bulin Wall' Khabibulin
Born: Jan. 13, 1973, in Sverdlovsk, Soviet Union (Russia)
NHL career: 18 years (1994-2014)
Teams: Winnepeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers
Bottom line: The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, but the "Bulin Wall" went up just a few years later.
Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin was a four-time All-Star who backstopped the Tampa Bay Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup.
6. Frank 'Ulcers' McCool
Born: Oct. 27, 1918, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Died: May 20, 1973 (aged 54), in Calgary, Alberta
NHL career: 2 years (1944-46)
Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs
Bottom line: Goaltending is a stressful position.
So Frank "Ulcers" McCool, who backstopped the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs to a Stanley Cup, may have owned as fitting a nickname for a goalie as there ever was.
Famous for taking ulcer medicine during games, McCool retired the next season because of recurring ulcers. Sadly, he also passed away in 1973 in part because of his namesake ailment.
5. Pat 'Little Ball of Hate' Verbeek
Born: May 24, 1964, in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 20 years (1982-2002)
Teams: New Jersey Devils, Hartford Whalers, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings
Bottom line: If you're 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds, you need some fire in your belly to make it in the NHL. Ornery and strong, Pat Verbeek more than made it, potting over 500 goals over a long, illustrious career.
In New York, Glenn Healy called Verbeek the "Little Ball of Hate" after Ray Ferraro, known as the "Big Ball of Hate."
4. Stu 'The Grim Reaper' Grimson
Born: May 20, 1965, in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
NHL career: 14 years (1988-2002)
Teams: Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators
Bottom line: Standing 6-foot-6, Stu "The Grim Reaper" Grimson was one of the most feared enforcers in the game in the 1990s.
Grimson fought 'em all, but his greatest rival was probably the equally fearsome Bob Probert. Grimson and Probert tangled a whopping 13 times throughout their careers.
Off the ice, Grimson cast another image, speaking to community groups, sponsoring a Christian hockey camp, and talking with students about dealing with negative influences such as drugs and alcohol.
3. Gordie 'Mr. Hockey' Howe
Born: March 31, 1928, in Floral, Saskatchewan, Canada
Died: June 10, 2016 (aged 88), in Sylvania, Ohio, United States
NHL career: 26 years (1946-71, 1979-80)
Teams: Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers
Bottom line: "Mr. Hockey." Perhaps that nickname, more than anything, tells you all you need to know about what Gordie Howe meant to the sport of hockey.
He was the sport's greatest ambassador. Both Bobby Hull and Wayne Gretzky were kids when they first met Howe.
"My inspiration," Hull once called him.
"He is, he was, he will always be the greatest," Gretzky once said.
Howe was the sport's greatest player, holding the record for most career goals and points until Gretzky's arrival.
Howe also was the sport's archetypal player. A "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" is a goal, an assist, and a fight.
Mr. Hockey, indeed.
2. Bobby 'The Golden Jet' Hull
Born: Jan. 3, 1939, in Point Anne, Ontario, Canada
NHL career: 16 years (1957-72, 1979-80)
Teams: Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, Hartford Whalers
Bottom line: Bobby Hull's blond tresses and blazing speed and booming slapshot earned him the memorable sobriquet "The Golden Jet."
Bobby was arguably the most devastating goalscorer in hockey history, but his son, Brett Hull, actually scored more goals than his father.
Nicknamed "The Golden Brett," Brett Hull put in 741 goals to his dad's 610. They're the most prolific father-son scoring duo in hockey history.
1. Maurice 'The Rocket' Richard
Born: Aug. 4, 1921, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died: May 27, 2000 (aged 78), in Montreal, Quebec
NHL career: 18 years (1942-60)
Teams: Montreal Canadiens
Bottom line: Sportswriters didn't call Maurice Richard "The Rocket" just because of his power and speed game.
Rival goaltender Glenn Hall noted, "What I remember most about Rocket was his eyes. When he came flying toward you with the puck on his stick, his eyes were all lit up. It was terrifying."
Perhaps the most dominant scorer of the NHL's first half-century, the Montreal Canadiens superstar also was a cultural touchstone in the province of Quebec. When Richard passed away in 1998, he became the first non-politician to be honored with a state funeral.
"The Rocket" was a nickname so good, it’s been successfully revived twice. Richard’s younger brother, Henri Richard, was dubbed "The Pocket Rocket" because of his smaller stature. The Richard brothers played together for five seasons.
Then, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, spellbinding scorer Pavel "The Russian Rocket" Bure burst onto the scene.
All three "Rockets" are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.