There may not be four letters more synonymous with NHL hockey players than c-h-u-k. We’ve gone through multiple databases and media guides to count the instances of NHL players with names ending in ‘chuk’, and our final tally is nearing 30. While there’s no real explanation for the recurring ‘chuk’ phenomena, we believe it’s equal parts coincidence and the rhyming with puck factor.
The power of the ‘chuks’ is far reaching, and knows no international boundaries. The origin of the ‘chuk’ is believed to be Ukranian, although, the Canadian province of Alberta is rich in its history of ‘chuks. ‘Chuks have been superstars, and ‘chuks’ have been marginal talents – but the fact remains that they have left their mark on our game.
Here is the Houses of the Hockey guide to player’s names ending in ‘chuk’:
Dale Hawerchuk (pictured above) is one of the NHL’s all-time greatest, and if you want to argue about that, cool – just know that you’re gonna get speed bagged. Hawerchuk is not alone in being a ‘chuk’ with considerable star power – one of the greatest goaltenders to ever strap the pads on was Terry Sawchuk. A former teammate of Hawerchuk’s in Buffalo, Dave Andreychuk, scored 640 goals in the NHL – thus establishing himself as not only one of the greatest ‘chuks’, but one of the game’s most prolific goal scorers, too.
More recently, we’ve seen guys like Keith Tkachuk and Ilya Kovalchuk attempt to carry on a long-standing tradition of ‘chuk’ super stardom with varying degrees of success.
The Second Tier
As evidenced by Brent Gretzky and Brett Lindros, just carrying a great name doesn’t mean it’ll translate into NHL success. Not all ‘chuks’ could be great, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be serviceable NHLers. For every Dale Hawerchuk or Terry Sawchuk, there’s a Steve Konowalchuk or Clint Malarchuk that doesn’t provide the same level of two-way prowess or back-stopping supremacy – but they enjoy long careers nonetheless.
Clint Malarchuk was a member of the 1990-91 Buffalo Sabres team that was infamous for hoarding ‘chuks’. There he joined Andreychuk and Hawerchuk to form the greatest trifecta of ‘chuks’ we’ve ever seen. Although, for his efforts, Clint Malarchuk is best remembered for something else entirely (WARNING – blood is spilled):
Other noteworthy ‘chuks’ that found moderate NHL success include: Orest Kindrachuk, Richard Matvichuk and Igor Kravchuk.
Beware of Impostors
You’ll be forgiven if you don’t remember the name Daniel Tkaczuk. Tkaczuk was a junior hockey standout, and former 6th overall pick by the Calgary Flames in 1997. Tkaczuk played just 19 gams in the NHL before fading into European league and ECHL obscurity.
Perhaps Tkaczuk’s ancestors are to blame for his ill-fated NHL career – let the lesson be learned that you don’t mess with etymology. Everyone knows that it’s spelled Tkachuk, not Tkaczuk. Having a name that is similarly sounding to an NHL star may help you get noticed, but it’s not necessarily going to translate into a long NHL career – just ask Joe Sacco or Paul Ysebaert.
Poor Daniel Tkaczuk. He never had a chance.
Know this, there is no greater NHL suffix than ‘chuk’. Imagine the career Peter Ing could have had if he were Peter Chuk.
When you’re a ‘chuk’, invariably, there’s some expectation to live up the greats. Some just never manage to establish themselves as everyday NHL players, while others come and go quicker than Jason Bonsignore.
Lesser known ‘chuks’ include Ken and Gary Yaremchuk, Gary and Gene Sobchuk, Gary Shuchuk, Jack Shewchuk, Brandy Semchuk, Peter Ratchuk, Bill Oleschuk, Ross Lupaschuk, Ed Diachuk, Larry Bolonchuk, and Gene Achtymichuk.
One ‘chuk’ stands alone in terms of punching prowess, and it’s Darcy Hordichuk. If all of the ‘chuks’ formed their own hockey team, Hordichuk would have a job.
The Next Wave
Ilya Kovalchuk is certainly the richest ‘chuk’ of all-time – and he’ll be asked to carry the name into the next decade, and then some. He’ll have some help from other up-and-coming ‘chuks’ like Johnny Boychuk and Zach Boychuk. Anton Babchuk has had trouble finding consistency in the pros, but he’s a big defenceman that carries the name. Boston Bruins’ defensive prospect Andrew Bodnarchuk had a cup of coffee in the NHL last season, too.
Did we miss anyone? Possibly, ‘chuks’ are like nuts – there’s almost too many to name. Who’s your favourite ‘chuk of all-time?