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Duffer's Digest: Weekes playing the name game

by Brian Duff
Have you noticed any changes at the NHL Network this season?

Yes, we have a new studio set.

Yes, On the Fly begins at 8 p.m.

Yes, I have less hair with each passing night.

Yes, Dan Pollard's highlights -- not the ones he's talking about -- appear to have a slightly different tinge to them.

And yes, we have an analyst who is changing the culture of the game whenever he graces us with his presence.

Often referred to as "deep" by his closest colleagues, former NHL goalie (yet still not officially retired) Kevin Weekes is putting a new spin on what seemed like the inevitable -- bad hockey nicknames.

You know the ones ... Miller becomes "Millsy," Gomez becomes "Gomer," Turco is "Turks."

We've all been guilty of using and abusing those handles through the years, but not Weekes. He'll have no part of it.

Case in point, our first night of the season, the Eastern Conference Preview show, featured Kevin (making his first regular-season appearance on our network), Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Murphy, and yours truly.

As the analysts debated something off-air that I can't quite remember, Weekes turns and slaps me with the nickname "Geneva."

"Look at you, just sitting there all neutral," he laughed.

And from that point on, it has become obvious -- he has, or will have, a fresh nickname for everyone, on the ice and off.  

Monday night we're watching the Leafs and Rangers at MSG, and all of a sudden Weekes bellows, "Orville!!!"

Sure enough, Wade "Orville" Redden (bacher) had popped his first of the season.

Not wanting to give away all his early season gems (you'll have to tune in for that!), I will submit to you two lists. It's up to you to figure out which names are a match.

Serge Gilbert Brule
Birthday Josh Harding
West Bob Errey
Randy Dave Bolland
Perry David Clarkson
El Zach Parise
Hills Marc Savard
Albert Adam Pardy
Warm and Easy Travis Zajac
Lake Bryce Salvador
Erse Kin and Fire Drew Stafford
Christmas Evgeny Artyukhin
Boll and Chain Sam Gagner
R2D2 Dan Ellis
Staff infection Rich Peverley
Tonya John Erskine
Crème Patrick Eaves

To this point, Weekes has only delivered a fraction of them on air, but that's the beauty of a long season. By game No. 1,230 he'll have amused the masses, not only those who love the game, but those who love a good laugh as well.

Beyond his humor, Weekes has brought terrific perspective from the position he knows well. It was refreshing to hear his comments pertaining to a goal-mouth collision a week ago involving the Devils and Lightning. Weekes was very disappointed with Tampa's Ryan Malone hammering New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner into Malone's own goalie Mike Smith.

Weekes (and most others) cannot understand why players continue to act so recklessly around their own goal. And if you remember the end result, Smith was left shaken up and cut in two places as his mask came off in the chaos.

Whether it's coincidence or not, it certainly appears as though Malone has been playing guilty ever since with four goals in two games, propelling the Bolts to consecutive wins.

And, finally, an opinion on the "Whiteout" in Phoenix.

Stop it already!

Does it look great and unite the fans? Yes.

Has it ever translated into ultimate success? No.

The franchise hasn't won a playoff round since 1987, with the postseason being the original impetus behind the clothing conformity.

And it failed to ignite the Coyotes again Saturday for their sold-out home opener in Glendale.

My suggestion: Have 'Yotes fans dress like those in Pittsburgh and San Jose. Incredibly Phoenix has posted shutout wins in each of those cities already this season.

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