The Stanley Cup is something that sets the National Hockey League apart from other sports. Not only because it's the rare championship trophy from which you can drink, but also because the names of those who won it are etched along its rings, forged into hockey history.
Oh, the names hockey has produced. Gretzky. Orr. Yzerman. Ovechkin. These are memorable names because these are legendary players. But another thing that sets hockey apart are the names that are memorable not because of the player's goal total or championship wins, but because this actual living breathing person is named Zarley Zalapski or Miroslav Satan.
With the NHL in its offseason, your friends at ESPN decided it was time to determine the greatest of all the NHL's oddest and most glorious player names. We've compiled 64 of them into four different regions in a bracketed tournament:
Old-school region, with the players from yesteryear.
Modern North American region, with players from North America who were active for NHL franchises in the past dozen years.
Modern international region, with players from outside of North American who were active for NHL franchises in the past dozen years.
Actual objects region, with players whose names are, or sound like, actual things.
Almost all of the players in this tournament played in the NHL, with one exception given to a current NHL prospect.
While we accepted nicknames based on first names, we did not include players known by their nicknames. While we agree that Lorne "Gump" Worsley, George "Punch" Imlach, Joseph "Toe" Blake, Harold "Punch" Broadbent, Modere "Mud" Bruneteau, Aubrey "Dit" Clapper, Elmer "Moose" Vasko, Eldon "Pokey" Reddick and others are stone-cold classic hockey names, we've taken them out of the tournament field. Obviously, we're trying to make a bracket for all to see, so we kept it family friendly, in case you were looking for some notorious names.
You can download the bracket here and play along. If you'd like to submit yours for fun through social media, tweet it to ESPN with the hashtag #NHLNameBracket.
Today, we're featuring a look at the field. On Tuesday, we'll have staff picks and winners.