Best of the Books: Top 10 players with Irish surnames

The Hockey News
(Photo by Bill Smith/NHL)

By John Grigg

The Irish have a long history of producing excellent hockey players west of the Atlantic. Kennedys, Fitz-somethings, O’Reillys, O’Donnells, O’Connells, O’-everythings. We’ve seen many sons of Ireland play in the NHL, a trend continuing today.

In honor of our friends from the Emerald Isle we offer you our top 10 players with Irish names.

10. Tim Connolly
It’d be tough to describe Ó Conghaile as “fierce as a hound” or “valorous,” but that’s what Connolly’s name means, so we’ll go with it. He’s neither retired nor playing, choosing instead to sit at home after collecting $4 million from Toronto to not play for the Maple Leafs last season.

9. Matt Cullen
Ó Cuillin, derived from a “holly tree,” can branch out and play both center and wing.

8. Jamie McGinn
A trade from San Jose to Colorado gave Mag Fhinn a serious boost in production. Do the Avs have yet another burgeoning young gun in their midst?

7. Chris Kelly
Kelly is a decidedly Irish last name – the second-most popular in Ireland according to one website – and means “bright-headed.” No wonder, then, that Ó Ceallaigh has turned into an all-around player.

6. Ryan O’Reilly
Ó Raghallaigh was a revelation in Colorado – second-rounders aren’t supposed to make the NHL in their draft years – and he’s only getting better.

5. Ryan Callahan
Ceallagcháin means “strife” or “contention.” A fitting title for the former Rangers’ bang-and-crash captain.

4. Bobby Ryan
Picked second after Sidney Crosby in 2005, Ryan has a surname meaning “king.” It’s too soon to declare him NHL royalty, but it’s not a stretch to crown him for his consistency: Ó Maoilriain had four consecutive 30-plus goal seasons from 2008-09 to 2011-12.

3. Cam Ward
The name Ward translates to Mac an Bhaird in Gaelic, which means “son of the bard.” While it hasn’t exactly been sweet poetry for the Hurricanes since they won the Cup in 2006 – they’ve made the playoffs just once – there’s no doubt Ward is a top-notch goaltender.

2. Dan Boyle
Boyle may just have the most interesting name on our list. You can call the blueliner “Dan vain pledge,” which is what Ó Baoill means. Ironic in that the Sharks have been making vain pledges to fans about their playoff chances for years…not that it’s any fault of Boyle’s.

1. Patrick Kane
His last name means “battler” and there’s no denying that’s exactly what Ó Catháin is. The undersized star isn’t afraid to use what he has at his disposal – his stick, elbows – to keep defenders at bay. Now if he can just keep his shirt on.

This is an updated chapter from THN’s book, The Hockey News Top 10.

Best of the Books: Most game-winning goals in one playoff series

Adam Proteau
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Bruce Bennett)

Scoring a game-winning goal at the highest level of the sport is something every hockey fan dreams of. Only a fraction of one percent of those people realize that dream – and only one player in the history of the NHL has ever scored all four winners in the same playoff series.

That’s what New York Islanders legend Mike Bossy did during the 1983 Wales Conference final against Boston.

Although he was famous for many reasons (including scoring two Cup-winning goals during the four consecutive Islanders titles), one of the right winger’s biggest achievements was putting up one of the greatest individual efforts the game has seen: a team-best nine goals and 13 points in the six-game series against a Bruins team that had the NHL’s best record.

“I haven’t forgotten that great series,” Bossy said. “That was memorable.”

After picking up the winning goal in each of three Isles victories, Bossy saved his best for the finale. In Game 6, Bossy had a four-goal night in New York’s 8-4 win over Boston.

That was the exclamation point for his answer to starting that post-season slowly – at least, for him – with six goals in 10 games against the Isles first- and second-round opponents.

“I had a lot of chances that weren’t going in earlier in the playoffs, so it felt like the odds were starting to even out for me against Boston,” Bossy said. “Winning was all that mattered, but it was fun to contribute like that.”

Bossy’s contribution is a record that can never be broken…barring the unlikely introduction of the best-of-nine playoff format.

This is an excerpt from THN’s 2011 book, Hockey’s Most Amazing Records.

Best of the Books: Most goals scored in one road game

Jason Kay
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Bruce Bennett)

In its heyday, the Spectrum was the most intimidating arena in the NHL, a raucous house of pain that sometimes caused visiting players to miss games due to the “Philly Flu.”

But it wasn’t always that way. Certainly it felt warmly welcoming for St. Louis Blues sniper Red Berenson the night of Nov. 7, 1968. In front of just 9,164 spectators in a game against the second-year Flyers, Berenson accomplished an offensive feat unmatched in league history, doing something not even Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux managed: he collected six goals – and did it in a road game.

The night started slowly for Berenson, who had just three goals in 12 games that season. Flyers netminder Doug Favell, coming off a five-game absence due to injury, stopped Berenson’s first shot and didn’t surrender his first goal until 16:42 of the first period.

For Berenson, that ice-breaker was a huge relief.

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Best of the Books: Consecutive games played by a goalie

Brian Costello
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Bruce Bennett)

Maybe he’s being humble, maybe he’s tired of the same question for half a century. Glenn Hall is just so matter-of-fact when it comes to talking about hockey’s most untouchable record.

“You had to be lucky,” Hall understated. “You had to stay healthy.”

Make no mistake, Hall’s record of 502 consecutive games between the pipes for Detroit and Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s is an ironclad standard enveloped in kryptonite. Even Superman won’t come close to touching this mark.

It’s unusual for a skater to play that many consecutive games. For a goalie, it will never happen again. It would be a cover story in The Hockey News if any stopper made it to 10 percent of Hall’s record. Read more

Best of the Books: Top 10 Sutters

Ken Campbell
(Darryl Sutter, by Jeff Vinnick/National Hockey League)

They are, without a doubt, hockey’s royal family. And like most reigning monarchs, they’ve been through their fair share of bloodbaths. Whether it was against each other on the frozen slough in Viking or against the best the NHL had to offer, the Sutters have always picked (and finished) their own battles.

And they’ve been pretty good hockey players along the way, too. Here are our top 10 Sutters, with a pair of unrelated namesakes rounding out list.

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Best of the Books: Biggest scandal

Ken Campbell

The way you’d like to tell this story, Don Gallinger found his peace and died contented and without any lingering resentment or regret. But sometimes the happy ending just doesn’t happen. It was that way with Donald Calvin ‘Gabby’ Gallinger.

Sixty-five years is a lifetime for a lot of people. It has been that long since NHL president Clarence Campbell banned Gallinger and Billy Taylor of the Boston Bruins for life from the NHL for betting on games involving their team. And even after Gallinger and Taylor had their suspensions lifted 22 years later, Gallinger lived out his life a reclusive, bitter man estranged from his family and the hockey world.

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Best of the Books: Smallest crowd


When you think of sparse attendance figures for an NHL game, you picture a bad night in Phoenix or Atlanta (when the Thrashers were still there) – a few thousand fans spread out across a sea of empty seats. But how hollow must it have felt in New Jersey on the night of Jan. 22, 1987, when a mere 334 fans were in the stands?

Of course, the low attendance that evening had nothing to do with the teams and everything to do with the weather. A vicious snowstorm that pounded the Eastern Seaboard from Georgia to New York took a toll on New Jersey’s roads.

“Traditionally players take a nap around 1:00 or 1:30 and there wasn’t a snowflake in sight,” said Doug Sulliman, a member of that Devils squad. “I woke up around 3:30 to have a cup of tea and there had to be two feet of snow on the ground and it was still coming.”

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Best of the Books: Most NHL teams played for


Sometimes men have a little trouble remembering things. Anniversaries and birthdays, for example, have a history of being bumped in the male brain for things such as which weekend the Super Bowl is being played on and how many paychecks have to be sacrificed in order to obtain that new set of golf clubs.

Mike Sillinger, who suited up for an NHL-record 12 teams, could be forgiven if some of the finer details of his family life have been lost in a haze of boxes and moving vans. But if Sillinger ever is asked to recall where each of his three sons was born, he’s got a visual reminder to rely on: the NHL jersey he was wearing at the time.

“One was born in Vancouver, so we have the Vancouver jersey in his room,” Sillinger said. “My other boy was born in Regina, but I played in Florida at the time, so he picked the Panthers along with my Team Canada (1991 world junior) jersey because he wears 16 (one of his dad’s old numbers) when he plays.

“And my other boy was born in Columbus, so he’s got the Columbus one in his room.”

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