Hockey culture doesn’t always nurture the most creative nicknames, but the Everett Silvertips are blessed with a few pretty strong ones.
Sure, there are still the common ones. There’s adding “sy” to a shortened surname (for example, Riley Sutter is ‘Suttsy’ or Dawson Butt is ‘Buttsy’) or the letter ‘R’ to a last name that ends in the letter ‘E.’ There are nicknames that are just shortened last names (Jackson Berezowski is ‘Bear’ because of how it phonetically sounds shortened out).
Everett’s head coach, Dennis Williams, is a big proponent of this philosophy of assigning a nickname to everyone, as basic and cookie-cutter as some might seem.
“I think it really has to do with Willy (Williams). That’s the type of guy he is,” Everett general manager Garry Davidson said. “I don’t think he goes by Dennis to his mother and media types. I think we’re a tight group, and those (nicknames) grow out of that, and they become a positive, infectious thing.”
There are four nicknames in particular that have sprouted around the Silvertips locker room, each possessing its own unique back story. Here is the story of each:
After just his first dinner at his billet’s house, Martin Fasko-Rudas was bestowed a nickname.
At the table were his billet brothers, Silvertips defenseman Jake Christiansen and former defenseman Kevin Davis, who were peppering Fasko-Rudas with questions, but weren’t getting much out of the Slovakia native, still adjusting to conversational English.
In between bites of build-your-own-burgers, Christiansen asked Fasko-Rudas what his nickname was. Fasko-Rudas, thinking Christiansen asked him what his favorite food was on the table, responded, “Tomato.”
Laughter ensued. And, more importantly, a nickname was born.
“It was hilarious,” Christiansen said. “No one was talking at the dinner table, and after that it was kind of an ice-breaker.”
The language barrier conceived Fasko-Rudas’ silly nickname, which he says he doesn’t mind. Since he arrived in Everett more than a year ago, he says his comfort level with English has grown tenfold.
“This (year) is way better,” Fasko-Rudas said. “I can speak and understand better, but when I got here it was really bad. I had school in Slovakia, like English lessons, but it’s really different when I got here. It wasn’t like school. In school the teacher can explain and help you, but here it’s just English.”
Last season, occasionally a pack of Silvertips players would head to the billet house of Connor Dewar and Bryce Kindopp and participate in some team bonding by playing Mario Kart 8 on Wii U.
Kindopp gravitated toward the ‘Larry’ character, a turtle-like creature that the group had never seen before. From then on, Kindopp exclusively picked ‘Larry’ as his racer.
“We were all supposed to be called by our Mario Kart characters, but it only stuck with me, I guess,” Kindopp said.
The nickname is synonymous with Kindopp. In post-game or post-practice interviews, players often refer to Kindopp as ‘Larry’ before correcting themselves. Even Williams will refer to him as ‘Larry.’
In one of Conrad Mitchell’s first days with the Silvertips, the team went around the dressing room to discover and uncover new nicknames on the team. When it was Mitchell’s turn to shout out what his nickname was and he mentioned that he’s heard ‘Diesel’ before, everyone’s face lit up.
“Everyone just loved it,” Mitchell said. “It’s funny. I have no problem with it.”
Mitchell’s nickname is self-explanatory. The 17-year-old forward is the largest player on the Silvertips roster at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds.
Not many people have ever called Mitchell by his first name around the rink in his time with the Silvertips.
“I don’t think anyone calls him Conrad. It’s just ‘Diesel,’” Christiansen said.
If you’ve every listened to a Silvertips radio broadcast, you’ve probably heard play-by-play man Mike Benton refer to Dewar as “The Pitbull,” because of the Everett captain’s small stature and relentless and tenacious style of play.
“It’s quite something when we do the starting lineup in the locker room and his name gets announced. There’s about two full minutes of barking as a pitbull when he’s announced as a part of the starting lineup,” Tips assistant coach Harry Mahood said. “It’s definitely a term of endearment for him for sure.”
Benton said the name was sparked during Dewar’s rookie season. Dewar’s ferocious style of play immediately grabbed Benton’s attention.
“He was physically in every battle,” Benton said. “There was no fear in his game, and for a 16-year-old that’s a big mountain to climb when you come and compete against players that are 18, 19, 20 years of age. He looked like he fit in each and every night.
“(A pitbull) can be one of the most tender and loving creatures in terms of canines on this planet, but they’re very much tenacious when they have something in their teeth, and (Dewar’s) tenacity stuck with me. He’s consistent (and) gritty each and every shift.”
You probably won’t hear Dewar’s teammates casually refer to him as “The Pitbull” around the rink, but he said the nickname embodies what he tries to be as a player.
“We kind of use it sarcastically around the rink, just kind of joke about it,” Dewar said. “It’s kind of silly, but at the same time I think I kind of symbolize a pitbull. I’m a smaller player, kind of tenacious and aggressive. It’s a fun nickname but it has meaning to it on the ice.”
Mahood said the nickname reminds him of longtime Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews’ popular moniker, “Captain Serious.”
“It just follows you around,” Mahood said. “They’re fun things, but they also capture the spirit of a person. His was always one of my favorites.”