The key to marketing the NHL can be found at Ellis Island

In my mind, Alex Ovechkin should be the biggest star in the NHL … and I’m a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. Simply put, the Russian superstar’s playing style seems like the exact thing that should grab the attention of that vaunted 18-35 demographic. Beyond scoring highlight reel goals, Alex O also headhunts like a uni-browed Troy Polamolu and bangs hot blondes like hot cakes. To get more American than that you need to snatch a damn apple pie off of a window sill.

Sidney Crosby, on the other hand, mainly passes the puck, lives in a middle aged man’s house and no one really knows if he ever sneaks busty coeds to his neat little basement nest. (This is the life of a man earning $8.5 million. Really?) And while Ovechkin hams it up for the press, Crosby’s about as secretive as the Bush administration.

So, what is it that makes Crosby more marketable?

His name. It’s easy to say and read. Two-syllables for his first name and two-syllables for his last. Rolls off the tongue. Joe Stain Shirt can read it and recognize him.

This brings me back to a simpler time in North America. When immigrants would flood the area known as Ellis Island, their bizarre European names would be changed to honest, hard working Joes, Johns and Adams. Sure, these practices reeked of xenophobia, but dammit … assimilation is progress!

Or so they’d say.

With that in mind, it got me to thinking: what if the NHL pulled an Ellis Island and re-named incoming Russians, other Europeans and the occasional Freedom Fry Frenchie? Let’s take a team-by-team look of what the league might do to make these consonant-heavy, multi-syllabic last names easier for honest, hard working ‘Mericans to read and recite.

After all, not everyone’s name can match the three syllable bliss of Erik Cole.

Anaheim Ducks

Teemu Selanne to Tommy Salami

Francois Beauchemin to Frank Bean.

Atlanta Thrashers

Ilya Kovalchuk to Eric Cooper

Kari Lehtonen to Carl Leto

Boston Bruins

Zdeno Chara to Zack Chara

Patrice Bergeron to Patrick Burger

Buffalo Sabres

Maxim Afinogenov to Max Alexander

Ales Kotalik to Al Cole

Calgary Flames

Jarome Iginla to Jeremy Eagles

Miikka Kiprusoff to Michael Crabtree

Chicago Blackhawks

Nikolai Khabibulin to Nick Wall

Johnathan Toews to Johnathan Taves

Colorado Avalanche

Milan Hedjuk to Miles Heder

Marek Svatos to Mark Smith

Columbus Blue Jackets

Pascal Leclaire to Paul Lee

Ole-Kristian Tollefsen to Owen Toll

Dallas Stars

Fabian Brunnstrom to Fred Burns

Stephan Robidas to Steve Roberts

Detroit Red Wings

Valtteri Flippula to Val Phillips

Justin Abdelkader to Justin Adams

Edmonton Oilers

Lubomir Visnovsky to Larry Vale

Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers to J.D. Drew

Florida Panthers

Jay Bouwmeester to J. Bowman

Tomas Vokoun to Tommy Vacuum

Los Angeles Kings

Anze Kopitar to Andrew Keith

Jason Labarbera to Bruce Barber

Minnesota Wild

Marian Gaborik to Mario Goodman

Stephane Veilleux to Steve Volume

Montreal Canadiens

Guillaume Latendresse
to Guy Trendy

Francis Bouillon to Franky Cube

Nashville Predators

Pekka Rinne to Pecker Red

New Jersey Devils

Pierre-Luc Letoruneau-Leblond to Luke Perry

Jamie Langenbrunner to Jimbo Lang

New York Islanders

Kyle Okposo to Kyle Ox

Sean Bergenheim to Sean Bergen

New York Rangers

Henrik Lundqvist to Hank Loder

Nikolai Zherdev to Nick Zeus

Ottawa Senators

Daniel Alfredsson to Alf

Anton Volchenkov to Andrew Volt

Jason Spezza to Jason Pizza

Jesse Winchester to Jesse Gunn

Philadelphia Flyers

Antero Niittymaki to Arthur Nichols

Kimmo Timonen to Kimbo Thomas

Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin to Gene Martin

Ruslan Fedetenko to Tank Johnson

San Jose Sharks

Evgeni Nabokov to Geno Copper

Johnathan Cheechoo to John Train

Marc-Edouard Vlasic to Edward Plastic

St. Louis Blues

Paul Kariya to Paul Korea

Tampa Bay Lightning

Vincent Lecavalier
to Vinny Cavalier

Martin St. Louis to Martin St. Peter

Toronto Maple Leafs

Vesa Toskala to Vin Tacosalad

Vancouver Canucks

Roberto Luongo to Bob Long

Washington Capitals

Alexander Ovechkin
to Al Oven

See, that’s a lot of fun. Leave some good ones in the comments
.

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