The 33rd in our 118-part series.
The stupid nicknames we make up that make no sense anywhere but inside our heads
We remember one time when an athlete for a pro team that we kind of liked, in a sport we kind of liked (read: not hockey), showed up for training camp one year announcing that he was ready to make up for his putrid previous season. He explained that he was leaner, in better shape than ever, and was mentally focused in a way he hadn’t been in the last year because, as it turns out, he’d been terribly distracted by personal issues. And those issues? Knocking up a Hooters waitress and the ensuing messy divorce from his socialite wife. In honor of that hilarious disclosure, we came up with the idea of “The Hooters Baby”. That when a player is slumping, and the TV announcers are tiptoeing around talking about it in really ominous, weighted tones, and the guy’s teammates are all making much more loaded “He’ll come around and break out of this” comments than the standard-issue “He’ll come around and break out of this” fare, and with each passing game the player looks more and more like he’s being eaten from the inside… we declare he’s having a Hooters Baby. Sure, he might be struggling with his parakeet dying. Or his home renovations getting on his nerves. Or he’s disappointed at how crappy the last Harry Potter book was. Or any number of serious, legitimate real-life tribulations that are distracting him. But whatever the reason — and it very well may be just a regular old slump — it feels like more than just a slump to the casual observer, and at stately IPB Manor, the blanket statement is applied: he is having a Hooters Baby.
In honor of today’s thrilling NHL news coming out of Minnesota regarding an unruly gang of Staal brothers drunkenly shouting at passing motorists (Scandal!), we will admit that, ever since his epic slump this past season, we’ve been calling Eric Staal “Hooters”. And because we once saw a little feature where Hooters and Mike Commodore went to the state fair with Tripp Tracy, we’ve decided the two of them are BFFs. And, naturally, any guy named Hooters should have a BFF named McCracken, so they can be the main characters in a buddy copshow called “Hooters and McCracken”, so that’s why we call Mikey C “McCracken”. It all makes perfect sense.
Inside our heads.
As does calling Colby Armstrong “CheeseTed”, or Peter Forsberg “Babar Feesberg”, or Brad Lukowich “Choco”, or Jason Pominville “Pommerdoodle”, or Brian Gionta “The Angry Truffle”, or Ryan Miller “Crunchy”, or… Well, you get the idea.
But everybody does this, don’t they? Inventing goofy nicknames that stick to a guy, so that when you’re trying to talk hockey seriously with another fan you have to stop yourself and say, “No, not everyone calls Slava Kozlov ‘The Little Goon.’” It’s just one of many things (dare we even say it’s one of 118 things?) that a person can really love about hockey.