What's in a name?

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 22: Adam Foote #52 captain of the Colorado Avalanche warms up prior to facing the Los Angeles Kings during preseason NHL action at the Pepsi Center on September 22 2010 in Denver Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Hockey players are famous for shortening their teammates’ names; this generally means finding a one-syllable version of either their first or last name and adding "s," "er" or "ie" to the end. This has yielded nicknames like Ports, Footer, and Paulie. For some players, this turns into an unfortunate scenario; I imagine Kyle Cumiskey is wishing he was born to the Spead family.

Fans and media folk aren’t any different with the teams. More than any other sport, it seems, hockey people feel it necessary to truncate NHL team names, usually to one syllable: Caps, Yotes, Hawks, Nucks, Oil, Preds, Sens. One team is even bestowed with a one-syllable nickname from another nickname; a person can get quite confused when watching a Canadiens/Bruins game and hear the announcers talk about how well the Habs are playing. However, just like players, some teams – especially those with names that can’t easily be reduced to one syllable – get labeled with a regrettable abbreviation. How’s the season going for ya, BJs?

The Avalanche is no different. People across the hockey world have pretty much come to a consensus that this team is called the Avs. Unlike other teams, though, there is some contention. For example, there are those fans who call them the Aves. I look at that and think, "Who are the Avenues?" It is also troublesome because basic phonetics tells us that the "e" on the end makes the "a" say its name, which means they are the Ayyyyvs. Perhaps that would work if the Fonze was an Avalanche fan, but for anyone else, it just doesn’t fly.

Another common misstep with the Avs is to call them the Lanche. What is a "lanche" – something a guy with a lisp uses in a joust? Worse, it makes me think of a whining, crying six-year-old girl. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my team associated with a spoiled brat who wants her golden goose and wants it now. No, I’d prefer it to be a Stanley Cup that the team wants; the wanting it now part is good, though.

What does AVS stand for? I really want to know because it seems it has something to do with the Avs, but I can’t quite figure out what. Is it Altitude Visitor’s Sickness, something away teams experience here a mile high? Or maybe it’s Assume Victory Stance. That’s kind of cool, except what if they lose? Does it morph into Almost Victorious, Sorry?

I guess, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. After all, we know who they mean. Besides, it could be worse: people could call them the Wings.

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