Naming a baby is a daunting proposition. Whatever name you give your child is the name it will be stuck with for the rest of his or her life, barring a legal name change. Studies have linked certain names with success in the business world, while others show that a child’s name affects how well they do in school and how their peers view them.
Most parents want to have some sort of personal connection with the names they give their children as well, whether that means naming them after grandparents, an influential person in their life, or a character from a favourite book. For a sports fan, they might want to name their child after an athlete from their favourite team.
Such as, for instance, Ryan Kesler.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that die-hard Canucks fans might name their kids after a favourite player from the Canucks. There are likely a bunch of little Daniels and Henriks in BC right now that owe their names to the Sedin twins. But for some fans of Ryan Kesler, naming their son “Ryan” just isn’t enough. These fans have turned Kesler’s last name into a first name.
Over the past five years, at least 85 children have been born in British Columbia and given the first name “Kesler.” How do I know this? BC’s Vital Statistics Agency keeps track of baby names and publishes an annual list of all names with at least 5 occurrences in the previous year.
For instance, in 2012 there were 19 new Keslers introduced into the world. That makes “Kesler” a more popular name in 2012 than, no joke, “Mark,” which has only 18 occurrences. To be fair, “Marcus” and “Markus” were both very popular, adding up to 109 together, but “Mark” on its own just didn’t cut it.
For “Kesler,” however, 19 is nothing. That name hit its peak in popularity at a very interesting time, which is easy to see thanks to the Vital Statistics Agency’s neat visualizer that allows you to compare the popularity of names over time. I compared “Kesler” to “Crosby” to get the following graph:
The bump in popularity of “Crosby” in 2010 makes perfect sense. After all, he scored the gold-medal winning goal in the Olympics in Vancouver. It immediately died in popularity in the following years, whereas in the United States it hit its peak of popularity in 2011 and continues to be a popular name.
The popularity of “Kesler” is remarkable in that it perfectly follows Kesler’s career arc. Prior to 2009, Kesler was a hard-working checking centre with a minor breakout year scoring 21 goals and 37 points in 2007-08. If any parents named their kids after him at that point, it was fewer than 5 kids, as it doesn’t show up on the chart.
In the 2008-09 season, however, Kesler started to come into his own, upping his point totals to 59, with 26 goals. That year, “Kesler” as a first name first show up on the chart, with 10 occurrences. The following season, he improved again, scoring 75 points. Ignore the slight dip on the graph, as it’s deceiving: the popularity of “Kesler” actually increased in 2010 to 11 occurrences.
The 2010-11 season was Kesler’s best season ever, scoring 41 goals and winning the Selke Trophy, More importantly, he had a great playoff run, scoring 19 points in 25 games, including an absolutely dominating performance against the Nashville Predators. It may seem uncouth to suggest that his Beast Mode play against Nashville led to the conception of numerous children, but it would be deceitful for me not to suggest it.
The use of “Kesler” as a first name massively spiked in popularity in 2011 and it’s pretty easy to see the cause and effect relation. In total 45 newborn babies received the name “Kesler” that year, more than “Jason,” “Seth,” “Jesse,” and “Tanner.” Sorry, Tanner Glass. Maybe if you’d scored here.
Unfortunately, Kesler just wasn’t able to match his performance in 2011-12, falling back to 22 goals and 49 points. The popularity of his name likewise fell to just 19 kids. Some of those were likely named for the residual good feelings from the 2011 playoff run, while some may have actually been conceived during that playoff run.
Given his injury troubles and the lockout-shortened season, we’re unlikely to see a revival of “Kesler” in the 2013 baby name census. 2014, however, is another story. With Kesler healthy to start the year and with a new coach behind the bench, will he return to the greatness of the 2010-11 season or simply have another respectable year with 20+ goals and 50+ points?
Things haven’t been going well for Kesler on the scoresheet early in the season, but his underlying numbers are promising, as David Ebner at the Globe and Mail points out:
One name to not yet register on the scoresheet is Ryan Kesler, several years removed from his 41-goal season and the Frank J. Selke Trophy, with injuries and surgeries and convalescence in between. He has one point (a goal) in four games, and is minus-three. He was somewhat testy Wednesday when asked about it, offering the rejoinder that there are 78 games left in the season.
Still, Kesler – and linemate Chris Higgins – are driving play. Looking at numbers from the NHL compiled by extraskater.com, Kesler and Higgins are among the very best in the league at pushing an offensive attack, behind only Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings (measured at even strength, with at least 30 minutes played, when the game score is within a goal).
It’s worth noting as well that Kesler has been starting his shifts predominantly in the defensive zone and has still been driving play offensively. The goals should come, though 41 is a stretch given how much good fortune went his way in 2010-11. Still, with his spot on the first unit powerplay secure and his 5-on-5 play dominant by puck possession statistics, another 70-point season is not out of the question.
He has a long way to go, though, if he wants to match the popularity of Trevor Linden.
Tags: Ryan Kesler