Howie Morenz, The Stratford Streak. via upload.wikimedia.org, Copyright expired.
The Chicoutimi Cucumber. The Golden Jet. The Edmonton Express. The Rocket. The Stratford Streak. Old Poison. The Pembroke Peach. The Hammer. The Russian Rocket.
These are all nicknames of a day gone by. They are descriptive and flowing. They tell a story and describe the player at the same time. They are as well-known as the players themselves.
Hemmer. Kopi. Big Buff. Sid The Kid. Horc. King Henrik. Brownie. Poni. Greener. Lupes. Vinny. Gabby. Lehts. Big Georges. Sammy. Scottie. Dewey.
These are all nicknames capturing the present group of players in the NHL. They are all based off of the player's name, and in most cases are simply a shortened version of the player's name. They are unimaginative and abrupt. Nicknames given to today's players are, for the most part, boring and uninspiring. Critics might say that boring and uninspiring nicknames are perfect for a boring and uninspiring league.
As the Edmonton Oilers begin rebuilding their broken-down franchise, Edmonton fans have a chance to rebuild the NHL tradition of creative nicknames.
The current generation of Oilers' nicknames are the same name-based or name-shortened monikers I described above: Hemmer, Horc, Gibby, Ladi - there is nothing special except for The Bulin Wall, which isn't a very good nickname in the first place. Darryl Reaugh has pushed "Studley Wonderbomb" for Sheldon Souray, but that's never caught on. As for the coming generation of Oilers, Anton Lander has told us that his nickname is "The Lamp", Magnus Paajarvi let us know about "Päjjan", and Bob MacKenzie has been pushing "Baby-Faced Assassin" for Jordan Eberle.
That leaves us Taylor Hall. Though he was born in Calgary, Hall came of age after his family moved east, and it was in Kingston, Ontario that the kid turned himself into a national name. He's fast, strong, quick, instinctive, and agile. He plays the game at full speed with and without the puck, alternatively bounding over the ice and slamming into the play headfirst.
But there is one word universally used to describe Hall.
Bruins Draft Watch said:
Explosive, dynamic game-breaker who has repeatedly demonstrated high-end goal scoring ability and a will to win. Blasts up to top speed in just a few strides and is a master of his edges, able to stop on a dime and change direction rapidly.
...takes the puck to the net with equal amounts of skill and recklessness...
Reckless. Dynamic. Blasts. Most of all, explosive. Hall's game is one of throwing himself headlong into the defense, pounding into defenders or empty spaces, and attacking the net. Nearly every scouting report written about Hall uses the same word: explosive. Hall heading into the offensive zone straight at the defense brings to mind visions of British artillery tearing into Allix's division at Waterloo. It's his explosiveness the Oilers are counting on to carry him through his first season in the NHL. It's his explosiveness that will propel the Oilers out of the basement. It is his single most identifiable trait, and one that should stay with him throughout his career.
It is in this vein that I submit to you Taylor Hall's new, but old-time nickname: The Kingston Cannonball.