Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Top Twenty Names in Hockey History

Here is the Top Twenty Names in Hockey History, as chosen by the staff of Third String Goalie. Don't agree? Send us your favorites in the comments below!
Top Twenty Names in Hockey History

20. Lou Franceschetti
19. Chico Maki
18. Branko Radivojevic
17. Lucien DeBlois (DEB Low Wah)
16. Maxim Afinogenov
15. Ilkka Sinisalo
14. Tony Twist
13. Pekka Rinne
12. Frank St. Marseille
11. Peter Sidorkiewicz
10. Kari Takko
9. Bubba Berenzweig
8. Sheldon Kannegiesser
7. Radek Bonk
6. Guillaume Latendresse
5. Ron Tugnutt
4. Parris Duffus
3. Valeri Zelepukin
2. Hakan Loob
And, without a doubt, the greatest name in hockey history, Zarley Zalapski, was born on this date in 1968.

Following two seasons of junior hockey Zalapski played three seasons for the Canadian National Team, then a season long proposition which many players used as a stepping stone to the NHL.

Zalapski Canada, Zalapski Canada

He was drafted fourth overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft and made his NHL debut following the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. He would play four seasons for the Penguins, playing a high of 66 games before being traded near the end of the 1990-91 season and just missing out on the Penguins run to the Stanley Cup.

1987-88 Pittsburgh Penguins

1988-89 Pittsburgh Penguins

Notice the changes in the customization in the Penguins jerseys from Zalapski's rookie year to his sophomore season. The name on the back is thinner and without serifs, the number changes font and the sleeve numbers move from the shoulders down to the arms.

The Penguins dealt Zalapski to the Hartford Whalers as part of the Ron Francis trade, a move that saw Zalapski see an increase in playing time and career highs in points as a result. The defenseman's only 20 goal season of his career came in 1991-92 followed by a 65 point campaign the following season while wearing the Whalers green jerseys.

1990-91 Hartford Whalers

Prior to Zalapski's final season in Hartford, they would change to their new modernized jerseys, which featured blue road jerseys rather than the traditional green.

1993-94 Hartford Whalers jersey

Traded once more, Zalapski was on the move, this time north of the border to Calgary to join the Flames. Once in Calgary, he would find his customary #3 already in use by Frantisek Musil and adopt the #33 while skating for the Flames. He would play in five seasons with the Flames, although he would miss all but two games of the 1996-97 season with a knee injury suffered in practice.

1993-94 Calgary Flames

Zalapski played a more defensive role in Calgary, as he would never again approach the offensive numbers he achieved while in Pittsburgh and especially Hartford. Zalapski also was present for yet another uniform change, as the Flames finally moved away from their traditional jerseys, which remained unchanged, save for the crest, even after their relocation from Atlanta.

The bold new sweaters featured the addition of a shot of black, reminiscent of the change the Minnesota North Stars made in 1981, where the restrained use of black added to the jersey, rather than taking over, such as what the North Stars succumed to in 1991. The main feature of the new design was the arresting diagonal multi-stripe on the front of the jerseys, which originated just below the main crest and shot off in the direction of the right hip. These bold jerseys would remain in use for three seasons before becoming dated.

1994-95 Calgary Flames

After five seasons in Calgary, Zalapski was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens in a deal which brought Valeri Bure to Calgary. His stay in Montreal was brief, playing there for only the second half of the 1997-98 season. Now back in his customary #3 Zalapski would have the honor of wearing the classic "bleu, blanc et rouge" sweater of the storied Canadiens.

1997-98 Montreal Canadiens

The 1998-99 season would see Zalapski's first foray into European hockey with an abbreviated season of just 11 games with the ZSC Lions in Zurich, Switzerland. He returned to North America for the 1999-00 season, which included time with the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the IHL for seven games before spending the majority of the season with the Utah Grizzlies, also of the IHL and a return to the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers for 12 games.

1999-00 Philadelphia Flyers

His time in Philadelphia would be the conclusion of Zalapski's NHL career, which would finish with 637 games played with five teams, 99 goals and 285 assists for 384 points and one All-Star Game appearance in 1993.

He would begin the 2000-01 season with the Houston Aeros of the IHL for nine games before returning to Europe, this time with the Munich Barons of the German DEL.

2000-01 Munich Barons

A new season meant another new country, as the former NHL All-Star found himself with HC Merano of the Italian league for 26 games. Zalapski began to apparently "dabble" in hockey at this point, playing seven games with IF Bjorkloeven Umea in the Swedish second division in 2002-03, no hockey at all in 2003-04 and 11 games with the Kalamazoo Wings in the UHL in 2004-05.

The 2005-06 season saw a total of just 16 split between three clubs, EHC Visp in the Swiss second division, Innsbrucker EV in Austria and SC Rapperswill-Jona Lakers in the Swiss top division. He suited up for just five games in all of 2006-07 with EHC Chur in the Swiss second division leaving behind a trail of lightly used game worn jerseys in his wake!

2007-08 saw a more serious effort with 33 games for EHC Biel-Bienne, still in the Swiss second division and a move to EHC Olten for a 34 game season and one of the more unique team logos in the world of hockey.

2008-09 EHC Olten
photos courtesy of Classic Auctions

Zalapski continues to play 22 years after his NHL debut, proving once more that there is life beyond the NHL, having moved to Lausanne HC in the Swiss second division and are currently involved in a playoff to determine promotion to the Swiss National League A, the top division of Swiss hockey for 2010-11. Lausanne currently leads Bienne three games to two in their best of seven series with Game 6 scheduled for today and Game 7 if needed on Saturday.

Today's video section begins with Zalapski scoring his first NHL goal on March 19, 1988 on a beautiful feed from Mario Lemieux.


  1. Dallas Drake, Rick Zombo, and especially Bart Crashley.

  2. I think you are overlooking two great names: Larry Playfair and Lindy Ruff. And the fact that they played together in Buffalo, the Sabres could (for a time) Play Fair and Ruff.

  3. Near the end, I might have substituted a few. I always liked Scot Kleinendorst, and my favorite player John Vanbiesbrouck. But there is no way, and I mean NO WAY that anyone can argue with you over the first two.

    I have a long Polish last name and got a "compliment" about 20 years ago when I paid for something with my credit card. The girl ringing up my merchandise said I had a hockey player's last name.

  4. Enio Sclizzi? Steve Wojciechowski? Pekka Rautakallio?

  5. How about Darren Puppa, Bill or Dave Quackenbush, Oleg Tverdovsky, German Titov,Per Djoos, Petri Skriko, Link Gaetz, Nikolai Borchevsky, Yutaka Fukufuji. All great names.

  6. Very good suggestions everyone. Thank you all for your responses. It's the most we've had for any topic to date.

    We had collected a list of over 65 names as we came across them and many of your suggestions were on that list, like Yutaka Fukufuji and Daren Puppa.

    Some of our favorites that didn't make our Top 20 that haven't been suggested are Brad Bombardir, Frank Pieterangelo, Punch Imlach, Sergei Krivokrasov, Martin Erat, Wayne Van Dorp, Curtis Leschyshyn, Bill Goldsworthy, Hnat Domenichelli, Orland Kurtenbach, Antti Laaksonen, Reijo Ruotsalainen, Lance Pitlick, Lou Angotti, Fern Rivard, Ivan Bolderev, Cal Clutterbuck, Vaclav Nedomansky and Sinuhe Wallinheimo.

    We find we're partial to alliteration and lyrical names, the Finnish ones in particular.

    Any more suggestions are welcome. We love to collect them and perhaps we will revisit this topic again some time.

  7. Oh I've got a lot man. When I was a kid, my dad used to buy me the annual NHL yearbook. So I would read it cover to cover every year. I still buy it every year, so I'm pretty up to date with names and records and what have you.

    Not just funny player names, but what almost was for recent expansion team. Could you imagine the current series between the Rocky Mountain Extreme vs. the San Jose Redwoods? Or the 2011 Entry draft being hosted by the Minnesota Blue Ox? Considering some of the players who play for those teams, the likes of Brandon Yip, Marc-Eduard Vlasic and Antii Miettinen.

    PS - I posted your site as a link in my blog, check it out if you're interested.

  8. I like Sami Salo. When simple and pronounceable, names from Finland are just great.

    PS. I hope I'm not repeating the comment by clicking twice here...

  9. Where's Garth Butcher? Gotta be there. A few others too. I'll get my list.


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