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Having a little nickname fun for a good cause

The Canadiens will be tweaking their warmup jerseys on Tuesday night to raise funds for the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL - Pay extra close attention to the backs of the Canadiens' jerseys during warmups on Tuesday night. You'll notice something different.

As they prepare to battle the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre, Claude Julien's troops will be substituting their family names for their nicknames to support of a worthy cause.

These jerseys will be autographed and auctioned off to raise funds for the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation, which will be hosting the 10th edition of its RadioTéléDON on Tuesday as well.

"Teamwork and camaraderie are values that the Foundation models every day. Whether in winter or summer, thousands of underprivileged youth throughout the province of Quebec are involved in our programs and initiatives every year. The goal is to build each child up while promising them a better and healthier future," said Ryan Frank, the Foundation's manager of fundraising, partnerships and events. "Having nicknames is one way to identify the people we care most about in our circles."

The auction will be open from 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday until 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 8.

Click here to register for the digital auction. 

You can also register for the digital auction by texting HABS to (514) 900-2220.

The Habs and their nicknames

One of the cooler nicknames on the roster belongs to Antti Niemi, of course. 

The 35-year-old goaltender is affectionately known as "Nemo" to his teammates.

"I actually have no idea where it came from, but I've had it for a long time. I would say early in my time with San Jose, maybe," said Niemi, on the origin of his moniker. "I'm sure lots of kids like it [because it's similar to the animated film Finding Nemo]. My buddies' kids like it, for sure."

"Nemo" wasn't always Niemi's nickname, though.

"When I was still playing in Finland, they called me "Andy,"" mentioned Niemi. "Lots of people still do, but it never translated over."

Like Niemi, defenseman Jeff Petry has seen his nickname evolve over the years.

"It wasn't always "Petey." When I was in Junior, it was "Dish," like petri dish. In high school, it was "Peaches," which was my dad's nickname when he played baseball. I think a lot of people knew about that, so that was it," explained the veteran blueliner. "Those are the three I can think of."

Similarly, Jesperi Kotkaniemi wasn't always referred to as "KK." That was a Canadiens original, so to speak.

"My name is pretty hard to spell when you hear it, so "KK" seems to be pretty easy," said the 18-year-old Finn. "I actually had another one - "Moomin" - a Finnish cartoon. That's kind of funny. I also had "Jeppu" back home, too. That was the main one."

By all accounts, though, Brendan Gallagher has more nicknames than anyone in the locker room right now.

"He's got about 15 nicknames, at least," said captain Shea Weber with a laugh. 

According to Gallagher's good buddy, Artturi Lehkonen, the Canadiens' assistant captain is a relatively easy target.

That suits Gallagher just fine.

"I'm good with most of them," shared the Canadiens' No. 11. "It changes it up to joke around a little bit. We spend so much time together. It's nice to have some laughs, and that's just part of it."

But, he still most often goes by "Gally."

"That's just been my nickname since a coach didn't want to call me Brendan anymore," explained the seven-year NHL veteran.

Gallagher has his fair share of nickname fun at his teammates' expense, too.

"I'm the only one that calls Domes [Max Domi] "Megamind." It's my own personal nickname for him," joked Gallagher. "He's just got a big head."

Domi isn't necessarily in agreement with that assessment, noting that the nickname really works because he has "a big mind." 

For his part, the Canadiens' leading point-getter will be sporting the nickname "Shootsy" on Tuesday, which originated from his playing days with former teammate Jason Demers in Arizona.

As for Tomas "Tuna" Tatar, the 28-year-old Slovak's nickname has caused a real buzz around the city this season.

His fellow Habs often refer to him as "Tuna Hockey" as well.

"They've called me that before. "Tuna" is fun," explained Tatar, referencing his playing days in Detroit. "I just think it got way bigger here."

It's easy to see just how close the players are this year, and the nickname-related camaraderie is another strong indicator of that.

"Giving funny names to everybody irritates us just enough," joked Niemi. "That's good."

To donate to the RadioTéléDON...





Text HABS to 45678 to make a $10 donation

• Donate $50 and receive an official photo of Jesperi Kotkaniemi 
• Donate $100 and receive official photos of Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Brendan Gallagher 
• Donate $250 and receive an official photo of Guy Lafleur signed by hand AS WELL

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